DENISON — On the verge of losing to an opponent lower in the conference standings, trailing 2-1 after two hard-fought 27-25 losses, the Creston volleyball team regrouped and beat Denison-Schleswig Thursday night, 3-2.
The Panthers won 25-23, 25-27, 25-27, 25-20, 15-8 to improve to 8-3 overall and 2-2 in the rugged Hawkeye 10 Conference. Denison-Schleswig fell to 2-11 and 0-3. But the Monarchs put up a strong fight, nearly pulling off the home victory.
“We were not at the top of our game by any means, but we were doing some good things,” said Creston coach Polly Luther, on the early 2-1 deficit. “Denison is a pretty decent team, especially compared to last year. They are good-sized, and they have a tremendous libero. Their back row was good.”
Creston then assumed control, outscoring the Monarchs 40-28 during the final two sets. Luther noticed a new mindset in her team between games three and four.
“I think they decided they wanted to win this match and came to life,” Luther said. “We put our serves in play, our passes were pretty decent tonight and our serve receive was good except for one game. Hanna (Luther) put the balls up and our hitters did their job.”
The Panthers’ depth was on display, with a couple of front row players making an impact for the first time since the start of the season.
“Ashley Harris came in as outside hitter and Marie Hood came in after game one,” Luther said. “They came in and did a nice job for us. It wasn’t like one person did all the hitting of the ball. We had a lot of good contributors.”
Natalie Mostek had a team-high 12 kills and Angie Sorensen added 10 for the Panthers. Mostek also had nine total blocks, including six solo stuffs. She served 17-18 with an ace.
Serve receive leaders were Brenna Baker 12-15, Haylee LaMasters 15-18, and Jami Sickels 14-15. Thomsen was busy in the back row with 20 digs and Sickels 8.
Hanna Luther had a big night at the service line, going 30-31 with seven aces. She had 35 setting assists. LaMasters served 19-19 and Thomsen was 15-15.
Morgan Slechta put down 14 kills with four blocks for Denison-Schleswig. Libero Samantha Pick had a match-high 38 digs.
Creston doesn’t have a lot of down time after Thursday’s long bus ride, starting play in the tough Red Oak Tournament at 9 a.m. Saturday.
Serving (aces) —Hanna Luther 30-31 (7), Haylee LaMasters 19-19, Alli Thomsen 15-15, Natalie Mostek 17-19 (1), Brenna Baker 10-11 (1), Jami Sickels 9-13.
Attacks (kills) — Mostek 12, Angie Sorensen 10, Jenna Taylor 6, Marie Hood 4, Ashley Harris 4.
Blocks (solo-assists) — Mostek 6-3, Sorensen 2-2, Taylor 1-3, Harris 0-2.
Setting (assists) — Luther 35, Taylor 1, Sorensen 1.
Digs — Alli Thomsen 20, Jami Sickels 8, LaMasters 4, Sydney Dunphy 2.
Serve receive — Jami Sickels 14-15, LaMasters 15-18, Baker 12-15, Thomsen 12-17, Mostek 8-12, Sorensen 4-6, Harris 4-5, Nicole Haley 2-4.
Denison-Schleswig handed Creston its first junior varsity loss, 23-25, 26-24, 15-11.
“We played a little rocky tonight,” said Creston coach Jessie McClellan. “They were the best competition we have faced yet and it was good for us to see areas we need to work on. Hopefully, we use it as a learning experience and come back to practice tomorrow ready to work.”
Ashley Bargstadt led the squad in ace serves with six and went 20-22 in serve receive. Marie Hood had a team-high seven kills, and freshman Hannah Hood was next with six.
Denison-Schleswig defeated the Creston freshmen 25-10, 25-7, 25-15, 13-12.
“We didn’t play very well in games one and two,” coach Mike McCabe said. “Lots of unforced errors. I was very proud of the kids who came in games three and four. Morgan Shawler, Aleisha Larkin came in and passed very well for us. Jennifer Hughes played well in the front row.”