Lady Jays glide to title at H-M-S tournament
HARTLEY — Class 1A No. 8 ranked Gehlen Catholic breezed to a championship at a tournament hosted by Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn on Saturday.
In pool play, the Lady Jays came away with wins over Sioux City West, Okoboji and the host school in convincing fashion. It was a different kill leader in each of those three matches as Rylee Schnepf had eight kills against West, Rachel Langel posted 10 kills against H-M-S and Jayden Barthole led the way with seven kills against Okoboji.
“The pool matches we were able to overwhelm our opponents with our serving and offensive balance,” Gehlen Head Coach Mike Meyer said.
The Jays took down West by set scores of 21-12 and 21-10. Along with Schnepf’s team-best eight kills, Langel had six and Barthole had four.
It was a 21-5, 21-8 sweep for the team against the Hawks. The team served especially well in that match with Miyah Whitehead getting four ace serves and Schnepf dropping in three aces on her six attempts.
The Jays added a 21-7, 21-8 pool play win over Okoboji. The balanced attacking match saw Barthole lead the way, but Langel and Schnepf were right behind with six kills apiece and Whitehead added five.
Meyer was pleased with Barthole stepping up as well as setter Sophie Ruden to allow some others to rest some while dealing with injuries.
“I was very pleased with the jobs done by two of our reserves, Jayden Barthole and Sophie Ruden, as they started in each of the pool matches as we were limiting playing time for Cadence Goebel and Larissa Sitzmann who had sustained injuries earlier in the week,” Meyer said. “Both Jayden and Sophie performed admirably.”
Goebel and Sitzmann did see action in the semifinal and final rounds of the tournament. The Jays faced South O’Brien in the semis and won 21-15 and 21-7. Lauren Heying was the kill leader with six, followed by Sitzmann with five.
In the championship, the Jays faced a rematch of last year’s regional final against Newell-Fonda. The first set between the No. 8 Jays and No. 10 Mustangs lived up to expectations with Gehlen able to come away with a 22-20 win. Gehlen found a bit more separation to complete the sweep in the second with a 21-14 win.
“The anticipated match-up was with No. 10 Newell-Fonda, who we split with at this tournament last year and then battled to a five-set win in the regional finals,” Meyer said. “Set one was a nail-biter, but fortunately we were able to maintain a small lead throughout and held on for the win. The second set we were able to assert ourselves to a greater degree, but they are a fine team.”
Heying finished with a team-best seven kills against the Mustangs, one more than Sitzmann. Alyssa Kolbeck had 12 digs which was most on the team as she was the team’s dig leader in all but one of the matches. Schnepf dropped in four aces as she was a perfect 14-of-14 serving. Abby Ruhland tacked on two aces while Jasmine Lubben had one.
Meyer said his team is starting to hit their stride.
“It was a very good weekend for us as we continue to improve our play,” Meyer said. “On the day we had good contributions from all of our players and it was a pleasing effort. Now we have only five regular season matches remaining, so we need to continue to grow as a team of competitors.”
Gehlen’s record improved to 16-5 as they have won 11 consecutive matches after getting out to a 5-5 start to the season.