Gehlen sweeps Akron-Westfield in regional final rematch
LE MARS — Cadence Goebel is very impressed with Gehlen Catholic’s array of hitters. A returning second-team Class 1A all-state setter, the daughter of head coach Dan Goebel dished 36 assists for a clean offense during Tuesday night’s 25-16, 25-13, 25-16 War Eagle Conference win over Akron-Westfield.
Miyah Whitehead had 10 of her match-high 19 kills in Game 2. Aurora Goebel and Jayden Barthole contributed eight and seven kills, respectively, while Lynsey Reuter added four for the state’s fifth-ranked Class 1A squad.
“I am so proud of how far we have come with our hitters,” said Cadence Goebel. “On the left side, Aurora and Jayden have made such big progress. Miyah has always been a strong hitter and she too has come so far this year. When we have good passes, we can run that strong offense.”
“This is what I know they could do and this is what I know they are capable of,” said Coach Goebel. “To see them come out and actually perform like that, I am so excited. We got the ball where it needed to go and we did it again and again, the first two games, especially.”
The first-year head coach, whose team improved to 7-4 (3-1 WEC) credited the passing from the back row of Sophie Ruden, Larissa Pohlen and Jasmine Lubben.
“Our passes were there, so we could run the things we wanted to run,” said Coach Goebel. “We could move it faster. If you don’t have a good pass, we couldn’t do some of those things we did tonight. Miyah did an awesome job, but let’s give credit to our passes and our setter to deliver when she needed to deliver.”
Defense was another key as Gehlen swept the school which it defeated in five games during last year’s Class 1A Region 1 final. Whitehead recorded four block assists, one more than Cadence Goebel while Rysaiah Sitzmann added one block assist.
All of these blocks were designed to control the offense of 5-foot-10 Akron-Westfield senior outside hitter Lauryn Saathoff, who entered the match with 99 kills. Saathoff delivered 13 kills for Coach Robyn Van Eldik’s squad, but also found it challenging to hit around the Gehlen block. Gehlen’s back row also dug up a good share of Saathoff’s kill attempts. During the night, Whitehead and Pohlen each recorded 14 digs while Ruden added nine.
“We did a good job of covering up that line,” said Coach Goebel. “My hitters told me after the game they knew where (Saathoff) was going to hit. They camped down on that same position time after time. Then, they kept going to her, so that was to our advantage. (Saathoff) is a good hitter, but our block happened to be there to get her most times.” Akron-Westfield (5-5, 1-3 WEC) went into the match having won three of its last four bouts. Saathoff, who registered a whopping 38 kills in two matches last week (including 25 against MMCRU) recorded her fifth match with 10 or more kills.
“We knew we couldn’t underestimate them,” said Cadence Goebel. “They have their setter (Josie Jacobs) back and they have a really good left side. We knew we had to have our A game on and serve tough the whole match.”
Ruden delivered four ace serves for the Jays, which will host the CYO Tournament Sunday. Barthole and Lubben each added one ace.