WEBSTER CITY - Jessica Kastler tried like crazy to keep the smile off her face, she really did. But there was no way that Sawyer Gourley could hide her excitement.
The Webster City volleyball coach and her star outside hitter shared a brief moment of celebration last night following the 11th-ranked (Class 3A) Lynx somewhat surprising three-set destruction of Iowa Falls-Alden inside Jefferson Gymnasium, and while the coach was already thinking ahead the player was still reliving the performance.
"This is huge for us because we've waited so long to beat them," Gourley said after the Lynx 25-12, 25-9, 25-19 romp over the Cadets. "We've lost to them every time since we were in the seventh grade, but now it's finally happened and it feels great."
Gourley was a beast from start to finish, as she smashed a match-high 15 kills to propel Webster City to a 19-3 overall record and 5-0 mark in the North Central Conference. She lashed six kills in the opening set and finished the Cadets off with five more in the final set.
Kastler, who begrudgingly admitted to the importance of last night's victory, gave setter Kari Peterson the freedom to direct the offense and Peterson made her coach look like a genius. The senior repeatedly used the quick set to get Gourley and middle blocker Emily Sletten chances to attack before Iowa Falls-Alden could set its block. Ten of Gourley's kills and three of Sletten's five bombs came courtesy of the quick offense.
"We've got so many different sets that we can use with the girls and (last night) that was the one that was working," Kastler said. "I let Kari have control of the offense and she was identifying that Sawyer was getting it with that one and we went with it until it didn't work anymore."
DFJ photo by Troy Banning
Webster City seniors Kari Peterson (2) and Sawyer Gourley get their hands on an Iowa Falls-Alden attack last night inside Jefferson Gymnasium. They were stellar, as was the entire Lynx team, in 11th-ranked Webster City’s three-set sweep of the Cadets.
Freshman Kaylee Schnathorst also finished with five kills for the Lynx, and senior Grace Nelson cranked out four. Peterson moved the ball all around the floor and finished with 32 assists.
Webster City trailed for a grand total of one point during the match. Iowa Falls-Alden scored the opening point of the second set, but the Lynx immediately tied the set on a kill by Nelson and moved ahead for good on one of Gourley's quick kills from the middle of the floor.
Nelson's serving prowess enabled the Lynx to score the first four points of the opening set, and the tone for the remainder of the match was set.
|Attacks—WC: Kari Peterson 2-2, 2 kills; Grace Nelson 8-11, 4 kills; Sawyer Gourley 22-23, 15 kills; Morgan Gourley 12-12, 4 kills; Emily Sletten 12-14, 5 kills; Kaylee Schnathorst 12-13, 5 kills.|
|Blocks—WC: Nelson 2, S. Gourley 1, Sletten 1, Schnathorst 2.|
|Digs—WC: Peterson 5, Nelson 9, Jessica O’Connell 9, S. Gourley 7, M. Gourley 1, Sletten 1, Jennifer Smith 1, Schnathorst 9.|
|Assists—WC: Peterson 32, O’Connell 1, S. Gourley 1.|
|Serving—WC: Peterson 7-8; Nelson 14-16, 3 aces; O’Connell 17-18, 2 aces; S. Gourley 12-12, 1 ace; Smith 10-10, 2 aces; Schnathorst 8-9, 2 aces.|
"Everything was flowing for the girls and it was good to see them come out and set the tone for the entire night right away," Kastler said. "We really pushed after we got those first few points and you could see them get down a little bit."
Nelson ended the opening stanza with a slam down the line.
An eight-point Webster City run in set No. 2 pushed its lead from 8-5 to 16-5 and the Cadets were never able to get on track. Sletten had a solo block and Schnathorst had two kills during the run.
Webster City appeared to have everything in control in the third set as well, but Iowa Falls-Alden refused to quit even after falling behind 16-4 on an outside smash by Nelson. The Cadets intensified their effort at net and scored 14 of the next 16 points to tie the set at 18.
But Lynx senior libero Jessica O'Connell put an end to the Cadets' momentum when she bumped the ball off the net and into an open area to push Webster City ahead 19-18. A kill from the outside by Morgan Gourley on the next point turned the tide in the Lynx direction and they never relented.
Sawyer Gourley finished the match off with back-to-back kills off - yep, you guessed it - quick sets.
Nelson, O'Connell and Schnathorst all finished with nine digs, and Sawyer Gourley added seven.
Now comes the fun part for Kastler and company, as the Lynx will now turn their complete focus to Thursday's showdown with 10th-ranked (3A) and five-time defending NCC champion Algona. The battle of league unbeatens will get underway from Jefferson Gymnasium at approximately 7:15 p.m.
"It's a big match for us, there's no doubt," Kastler said.