MOUNT AYR — Even though the Mount Ayr volleyball team entered the fourth game here Tuesday trailing Central Decatur 2-1 in games, there was a certain sense of confidence among the Raiderettes.
They’re used to playing in close matches at home. Every home match this year had gone five games.
So when the Raiderettes picked up a big win in game four, they knew what to expect in game five, and used that experience to propel them to a win 25-27, 25-19, 20-25, 25-12, 15-8 win over the Cardinals in the opening round of Class 2A regional play.
“I just told them, basically, it’s going to come down to who wants it more,” Mount Ayr head coach Tori Braby said about the conversation heading into the fourth game. “Every home game this season has come down to five games, so we’re used to that. We just like to wait until the last second before we decide to play. We just insist on giving me gray hair, I think.”
Central Decatur junior left side hitter Hallie Linhart had given Mount Ayr fits through the first three games of the match, but the Raiderettes slowed her down in the fourth game.
Mount Ayr sailed to a 9-2 lead in the game, and eventually stretched it to a 16-4 lead thanks to a Kelcie Shields kill.
With the score 21-9, Linhart finally got back on track, but it was already too late as Mount Ayr held on for the 25-12 win in game four.
“In the fifth game, I told them momentum is on our side, we have to keep it there,” Braby said. “We had it in our minds that we’re going to come out and put them away right away. We haven’t put a team away all season, so it was nice to actually see them not let anyone hang around.”
Mount Ayr once again got out to a quick start in the fifth game, taking a 5-1 lead on a Paige Daughton tip and then an 8-3 lead on a Kelcie Shields kill. Shields had another kill to make it 10-5 and then hit one off the Central Decatur blockers for a 14-6 lead, before finally putting the match away at 15-8.
“Kelcie Shields came out and she’s been playing a little timid, and she actually got rid of that,” Braby said. “She came out and started hitting the ball real well. Paige Daughton can really mix it up. She does a lot of tipping, but yet when she comes back and fires, they’re never ready for it.”
Central Decatur head coach Joni Readout said Mount Ayr’s serving, and Shields’ play on the left side made a big difference in the match, especially late.
“Mount Ayr’s got some great servers, and they served against us,” she said. “They have a freshman left side (Shields) that we couldn’t block tonight, and she scored on us.”
For Readout, the opportunity to put Mount Ayr away with a 2-1 lead in games, but failing to do so was a familiar story.
“That’s kind of been our curse this year,” she said. “We have opportunities to win and then we hesitate, or we’re afraid and we don’t take advantage of those opportunities or we risk a point to earn a point. So that’s been our hurdle.”
Central Decatur ends its season at 5-19. Mount Ayr improved to 5-22 for the season, but as far as Braby is concerned, the Raiderettes are now 1-0.
“We really needed this win,” Braby said. “We’ve been working hard all season, and I tried to tell them we’re starting over right here — our record is 0-0 — because our record this season hasn’t reflected the effort and the time we put in to get where we need to be.”
The Raiderettes now advance to take on Southwest Valley in Corning at 7 p.m. on Oct. 29 in the regional quarterfinals.
Mount Ayr statistics
Serving (aces) — Kelcie Shields 19-20 (2), Paige Daughton 11-12 (1), Allie Shields 14-15 (2), Macy Larsen 19-20 (1), Blair Glendenning 10-10
Attacks (kills) — Paige Daughton 14, Kelcie Shields 12, Allie Shields 6, Tessa Shields 3, Leah Klejch 2
Blocks (solo-assists) — Leah Klejch 1-1, Shelbie Greene 1-1, Tessa Shields 1-0, Paige Daughton 1-0
Setting (assists) — Shelbie Greene 20, Macy Larsen 15
Digs — Paige Daughton 13, Brook Rychnovsky 11.