ORIENT — Creston finished off a successful day at the Orient-Macksburg junior varsity tournament Saturday with a big rally in the final set to sweep Lamoni in the championship match, 21-13, 23-21.
Creston faced deficit of 13-7 and 20-16 in the second set, before outscoring the Demons 7-1 down the stretch.
“The girls just had to focus one point at a time, and they did just that,” said a pleased coach Mallory Peterson. “It was an exciting way to end a great day.”
Creston went 3-0-2 for the day, with a mixed squad of freshmen and JV players, as some JV team members accompanied the varsity in action at Winterset.
Members of the championship team at O-M were Jana Johnson, Taylor Hudson, Mackenzie Andreasen, Nicole Haley, Marie Hood, Alyssa Higgins, Josie Sickels and Gracie Russell.
Based on points, Creston came out of pool competition as the top seed in a competitive field. The Panthers split with Stanton 16-21, 21-15; swept East Union 21-14, 21-17; and split with Nodaway Valley 21-19, 17-21.
“The teams were so closely matched, every point mattered,” Peterson said. “Everything we’ve been working on came together. After the East Union game, I told the girls that was the best I have seen any of our teams play all year. The communication on the floor was great.”
Edging Stanton for the top seed, Creston was paired with Elk Horn-Kimballton/Exira from the opposite pool to open the tournament phase and prevailed in a tight match, 21-19, 22-20. Hood was temporarily sidelined by injury and Andreasen filled in some front-row duty.
Haley served three straight aces as Creston won, 21-19.
Lamoni upset Stanton in the other semifinal, but Creston grabbed the early momentum in the title match with the 21-13 win. Creston then quickly fell behind by seven before mounting the winning rally.
Peterson said all phases of the Panthers’ game clicked.
“It was more than just one or two girls getting the attacks, digging up hits, passing off the serve, and getting touches on the block,” she said. “Today’s effort was balanced. That is what makes a solid team.”
Attacks (kills) — Nicole Haley 61-80 (29), Marie Hood 38-58 (20), Taylor Hudson 26-36 (11), Alyssa Higgins 35-40 (8).
Setting (assists) — Gracie Russell 34, Josie Russell 30.
Digs — Mackenzie Andreasen 24, Audrey Fyock 15, Gracie Russell 13, Nicole Haley 12, Alyssa Higgins 12, Josie Sickels 9.
Serving (aces) — Haley 33-36 (8), Higgins 36-41 (5), Russell 29-35 (4), Fyock 27-28 (6), Andreasen 33-37 (3), Josie Sickels 27-31 (2).
Serve receive — Haley 35-45, Higgins 28-37, Fyock 21-23, Andreasen 12-14.
Blocks (solo-assists) — Jana Johnson 0-5, Haley 1-4, Hudson 2-1.