Le Mars improves throughout volleyball match, but falls to East

Monday, September 12, 2022
(Sentinel Photo By Allen Hamil) Le Mars libero Sarah Brown makes a play on a ball as teammate Grace Van Otterloo looks on. Brown tied for the team lead with 13 digs in the match and also had the only ace serve for the Bulldogs in the match.

LE MARS — The Le Mars Community volleyball team showed improvement throughout their match against Missouri River Activities Conference foe Sioux City East on Thursday.

While the Bulldogs fell in three sets, Le Mars Head Coach Jessica Wolles said it was good to see her team make adjustments and continue to fight through the whole contest as each of the set scores got closer. Le Mars fell 25-8 in the first set, pulled closer with a 25-15 score in the second set, and fell by just five points, 25-20, in the third set.

“Our goal this year is to improve every single set, every single game and especially in this game it showed,” Wolles said.

East got out to a big lead early in the first set as they rattled off the first six points. A serving run for Maddie Jackson which included a pair of ace serves led to a timeout by the Bulldogs at 15-4. Wolles said her team made some adjustments in serve receive which helped them do better after the first set.

“Serve receive was what was killing us,” Wolles said. “I just kind of told them to make some adjustments, pass that ball high so we can at least get a ball aggressive over the net. They finally started doing that and they started to do a lot better in that second set, actually tracking that ball a little bit better, getting behind that ball so we could actually get some kills out of it.”

Lexi Hurd got a couple of kills later in the first set, part of her six in the match, but the deficit was too much to overcome as the team fell 25-8 in the opening frame.

East held a 7-2 advantage in the second set with Ivy Mehlhaff dropping in an ace to give the Black Raiders the five point advantage. Le Mars did pull the score to within two points at 8-6, but East went on a 6-0 run which led to a Le Mars timeout with the Bulldogs trailing by eight.

Ireland Sitzmann did her best to try to get the momentum shifted back in favor of the Bulldogs. She had a pair of kills in a short span to cut the deficit down to five points at 15-10. Sitzmann ended with a team-high seven kills as she and Hurd were the only players on the team with more than two kills in the match.

East closed the second set on a 10-5 advantage as a kill from Ashlyn Draube clinched a 25-15 win. Draube finished with six kills for a balanced Black Raiders squad which was led by eight kills apiece for Elli Harris and Olivia Mentzer.

Le Mars put together their best set in the third.

“I felt pretty good about that third set,” Wolles said. “The girls finally brought some aggressiveness and I felt like that was why we did a lot better in that third set.”

A serving run from Sarah Brown helped to build the team’s lead. Brown also had 13 digs which tied Payton Wright for most on the team. Wright, the team’s setter, finished with 19 assists. Wolles said those two players had good nights.

“Sarah Brown did awesome playing defense, especially on that cross and with that middle over there at East,” Wolles said. “I thought Sarah was reading the ball really well, digging the ball. I thought Payton was making really good decisions with her setting.”

Brown had the team’s lone ace serve of the night to give the Bulldogs a 6-4 lead and the team built up their advantage to 9-5 which led to a timeout from the Black Raiders.

East was able to regroup after the timeout and pulled to a tie at 14-14. The teams stayed close through the rest of the teens. East broke a 19-19 tie with three straight points which led to a Le Mars timeout. While Hurd got one more point for the Bulldogs with a kill, two attacking errors and another dropped ball on a miscommunication gave East the final three points they needed to score a 25-20 win to clinch the match.

Wolles said the team just needs to keep on improving like how they did throughout the match against East and pointed out some areas she’d like the team to focus on.

“I want to focus on being aggressive and working on that second ball offense,” Wolles said. “When we don’t get a good ball, what can we do with that ball is what we need to work on. And, I really want us to work on blocking a lot better, too. We need to get stronger with our blocking game because we’re a short team so we need to be ready to go front row blocking and just having a strategy along with that.”

East improved to 4-6 with the win and 2-0 in the MRAC. Le Mars fell to 1-7 overall and 0-2 in conference play.

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