IOWA FALLS — On paper, the teams were even.
Both the Southwestern and Ellsworth volleyball teams had beaten each other during the regular season. SWCC entered Tuesday night’s regional match with a 23-16 record; Ellsworth hosted with a 22-16 mark. They had tied for fourth place in the region.
As it turned out, last weekend’s 3-1 victory by Ellsworth turned out to be indicative of the regional tourney outcome, as the Panthers swept the Spartans Tuesday, 25-23, 25-19, 25-18.
Ellsworth advances to take on ninth-ranked Iowa Central (33-10) as the regional concludes at Iowa Falls this weekend. Iowa Central defeated Marshalltown, 3-0. Also advancing with sweeps Tuesday night were No. 7 Kirkwood over NIACC and No. 10 DMACC over Iowa Lakes.
It was not the performance SWCC coach Melissa Blessington was looking for Tuesday.
“Disappointing end to a great season,” Blessington said. “We are really going to miss the play from our sophomores — Mariah Kruse, Caleigh Fowler and and Katelyn Coyle. Our girls accomplished a lot and I am nothing but proud of this group.”
Nerves in the regional tournament setting played a part for her freshman-oriented team, Blessington said, as Southwestern missed seven serves in dropping a close opening set, 25-23.
“We had a lot of people who hadn’t been through this before, and we had a lot of errors,” Blessington said.
A bright spot for the Spartans was freshman setter Molly Schimp, who not only set up 25 assists for kills, but also finished with a team-high nine kills.
“Molly was able to push the ball to the corner a lot, and on a couple of her kills the ball was tight to the net,” Blessington said. “She can make a good athletic play.”
Ashley Strong had a team-high 11 digs and served 7-8 with one ace.
With so many returnees next year, Blessington’s recruiting task will be much different.
“We have a lot to build on for next year already,” Blessington said. “I don’t have to go out and search for 11 new faces.”
Attacks (kills) — Molly Schimp 9, Mel Mangrum 7.
Blocks — Lily Lower 5, Mangrum 2.
Digs — Ashley Strong 11, Jacelle Neill 9.
Serving (aces) — Strong 7-8 (1).
Setting (assists) — Schimp 25.