CLARINDA — The Creston volleyball team looked like a different team here Thursday against Clarinda than it did at home on Tuesday against Norwalk.
And not in a good way, according to head coach Polly Luther.
“It was pretty rocky,” she said. “We didn’t even come close to playing how we did the other night. Our serve receive was pretty rough. Our blocking was pretty rough. They had two big hitters in Darcy Sunderman and Jenny Bair who cut through a lot of our blocks. We still have a lot of work to do.”
Clarinda defeated the Panthers in straight sets, 25-15, 25-20, 25-23.
The Panthers struggled with service receive Thursday night, finishing 24-of-54 in that category as a team.
For the Panthers to be able to compete in the rugged Hawkeye 10 Conference, they’ll need to become more consistent, especially in service receive, Luther said.
“Without that first pass, we have little to work with,” Luther said. “That’s kind of a key element in the game, is to get that pass up to our setter so that we can do something with it. We have a lot of work to do. It starts tomorrow.”
After the first game, the Panthers settled in and began to play better, but not consistent enough to win a game.
“A few of them it was kind of back and forth,” Luther said. “We just never really kept a commanding lead. After game one, we really fought with them. We just had no consistency.”
Luther was pleased with how her team performed serving the ball. As a team, the Panthers served 92 percent with four aces.
Hanna Luther served a perfect 10-for-10 with one ace, while Natalie Mostek was 10-11 with one ace. Jami Sickels served 7-of-8 with two aces.
“Our serving continues to have a pretty decent success,” Luther said. “We’ve got to work a little better on placement. We’re calling serves now, and several of the girls are hitting the spots.”
Luther also praised the play of Angie Sorensen and Nicole Haley, who entered the varsity lineup on Thursday.
Sorensen saw time in the middle for the Panthers, as Luther said she felt like she rushed Ashley Harris back from an ankle injury too soon on Tuesday, and elected to give her more time to rest the sore ankle.
Haley, she said, earned playing time with her solid performance in the JV contest on Tuesday and with her work ethic in practice.
“Sorensen’s been playing well for us in JV. She’s done some good things. She got her hands on some blocks. The more experience she gets, she’ll get better,” Luther said. “Nicole, she got her first go around today and she did a nice job. She just needs more confidence. She’ll get that.”
As for getting more consistent, Luther said work begins today.
The Panthers, now 1-1 overall and 0-1 in Hawkeye 10 Conference play, host Atlantic on Tuesday.
Seeing a team like Clarinda, which is considered to be one of the upper-echelon teams in the Hawkeye 10, early in the season gives the Panthers an idea of what they need to work on.
“Had we come out and played like we played against Norwalk, I firmly believe the scenario would have been a lot different,” Luther said. “We were nowhere near the caliber team we were on Tuesday. We have to have consistency. Especially in our conference. There’s no room for error.”
Clarinda 3, Creston 0
Serving (aces) — Natalie Mostek 10-11 (1), Jami Sickels 7-8 (2), Haylee LaMasters 6-6, Alli Thomsen 10-11, Brenna Baker 4-5, Hanna Luther 10-10 (1).
Attacks (kills) — Nicole Haley 6, Natalie Mostek 5, Sydney Dunphy 4, Jenna Taylor 3, Angie Sorensen 2.
Blocks (solo-assists) — Natalie Mostek 1, Jenna Taylor 1, Angie Sorensen 1.
Setting (assists) — Hanna Luther 20.
Serve receive — Jami Sickels 7-8, Haylee LaMasters 4-11, Alli Thomsen 3-8, Brenna Baker 1-8, Nicole Haley 3-7, Natalie Mostek 8-15, Sydney Dunphy 1-3, Angie Sorensen 1-2.
The Creston JV team improved to 2-0 for the season with a 25-16, 25-12 win over Clarinda on Thursday.
“Our girls played great,” Creston JV coach Jessie McClellan said. “We need to continue to play our game at our level against every team we face. If we do that, we will continue to be successful.”
Audrey Fyock led the team in ace serves and also had a strong night passing the ball. Ashley Eblen led the team in blocking.
The Creston freshmen fell to 0-2 for the season with a 25-22, 25-15, 27-25 loss to Clarinda on Thursday.
“I thought we played better tonight,” Creston freshman coach Mike McCabe said. “Had a couple of rough spots in each game that cost us. We’ll continue to work and get better. Cydney Seeley and Ellie Johnston had big serving nights for us.”