No. 2 Lady Jays cruise in first regional contest

Friday, October 22, 2021

LE MARS — No head coach, no problem for the Class 1A No. 2 ranked Gehlen Catholic volleyball team on Wednesday as they cruised to a 3-0 win over Trinity Christian in a regional quarterfinal match.

Mike Meyer, who has collected over 1,000 coaching wins in his career including over 400 at Gehlen, was absent from Wednesday’s match due to COVID-19.

Assistant coaches for the team are Kathy Neary, who led the Lady Jays to their first state appearance in her first season as head coach in 1987, and Amber Schilmoeller, née Timmins, the school record holder in career assists who was on the 2011 state runner-up team her senior season for the Jays.

Gehlen probably could have taken the court with no coaching assistance the way they took care of the Tigers, winning by set scores of 25-6, 25-4 and 25-14.

Leading attacker Miyah Whitehead had more kills for the match as the Tigers had total points in the first two sets as the junior ended with a team-high 12 kills while hitting for a .550 efficiency. The Lady Jays also served up 13 aces in the match, just one point fewer than the total number of points scored by the Tigers in the third set. Whitehead also led the way in aces with four. Rylee Schnepf and Jasmine Lubben contributed three aces apiece.

Gehlen’s next three in kills all ended with five, the same number of kills Trinity had as a team for the entire match. Lauren Heying, Larissa Sitzmann and Schnepf all finished with five kills for the Jays. Gehlen hit .387 as a team while the Tigers had 24 attacking errors to finish with a -.260 kill efficiency.

The 24 attacking errors matched the total number of assists for Gehlen setter Cadence Goebel who joined Olivia Bunkers with three kills.

Commenting on the game from afar, Meyer had good things to say about the team.

“I wasn’t at the game of course, but it seems like we came out with a tremendous amount of energy and enthusiasm and performed in a dominating manner in most phases of the game,” Meyer said. “We hit extremely well in the first two sets as we had 26 kills in 49 swings with only one hitting error. That’s a .510 hitting efficiency for those initial sets. We had good balance again which we like, although Miyah had a very strong game.”

Meyer also commented on a team metric for passing after receiving the stats from the game at his house. He said that can probably explain a lot of the good hitting numbers.

“Perhaps the stat I like to see is our passing a 2.8 on our three point scale,” Meyer said. “That means our setter was getting the ball exactly where we want her to a lot. This explains the offensive production.  Alyssa Kolbeck, Lauren Heying, Jasmine Lubben, and Miyah Whitehead did a great job with this important, but often overlooked skill.”

Trinity ends the season with a 9-15 record.

Gehlen will take a 23-5 record along with an 18-match winning streak into Monday’s regional semifinal contest at home against MMCRU (16-10). It’s a rematch of last year’s regional final which the Jays won 3-1. Gehlen also won this year’s conference meeting by a 3-1 score.  

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