WEBSTER CITY - Monica Maharry hit the first serve. Hannah Myers slapped the first kill, Molly Gilbert offered up the first rejection, and Kaylee Schnathorst registered the first service ace.
Oh, and Webster City captured the first victory.
But it wasn't easy.
DFJ photo by Troy Banning
Webster City sophomore Molly Gilbert (9) celebrates after lashing a kill from the middle of the floor during the first set against St. Edmond last night in the WCHS gymnasium. The Lynx opened the new facility with a victory in four sets.
A new era began last night with the unveiling of the state-of-the-art WCHS gymnasium to competition, and the Lynx volleyball squad didn't disappoint the large home crowd in attendance, as they opened up defense of their North Central Conference championship with a 3-1 victory over Fort Dodge St. Edmond.
After a lethargic start, WCHS rallied to take the opening two sets and only had a third-set hiccup en route to a 25-20, 25-12, 22-25, 25-21 victory.
"It was definitely a different atmosphere in the gym and I think the girls really let that build up their excitement," WCHS head coach Jess Howard said. "Maybe they were a little too pumped up and that was why they came out a little soft in that first (set)."
Attacks - WCHS: Kaitlyn Kehoe 1-1, 1 kill; Bridget Moriarty 21-25, 7 kills; Kaylee Schnathorst 26-37, 16 kills; Molly Gilbert 20-24, 6 kills; Hannah Myers 9-11, 5 kills; Mikaleh McCoy 3-4, 1 kill; Maddie Anderson 1-3.
Blocks - WCHS: Moriarty 1, Gilbert 9, McCoy 3, Anderson 1.
Digs - WCHS: Kehoe 10, Monica Maharry 8, Morgan Gourley 20, Ashley Price 9, Schnathorst 20, Gilbert 3, Myers 3, Anderson 2, McCoy 1.
Assists - WCHS: Kehoe 15, Ashley Price 18.
Serving - WCHS: Kehoe 12-12; Maharry 8-8, 1 ace; Gourley 21-21, 2 aces; Price 24-25, 3 aces; Schnathorst 23-23, 4 aces; Gilbert 5-7, 1 ace.
It also didn't help that Howard was forced to redesign her lineup on Tuesday after two-year starting libero Tiffany Constable fractured her cheek in a jet ski accident over the weekend. Constable will miss the next six weeks.
Junior Morgan Gourley took off her attacker's cap and slipped into the libero jersey and collected a career-high 20 digs. Schnathorst, a classmate, also had 20.
"I give a lot of credit to the girls because they got the new lineup on Tuesday and basically had two days to get ready," Howard said. "They had a lot to learn in such a short period of time.
"(Constable's injury) is definitely a huge loss for the team because she had a lot of experience at that spot."
Schnathorst worked the outside of the court for a match-high 16 kills. Senior Bridget Moriarty went primarily off quick sets from the middle of the floor to pound seven, and Gilbert and Myers, both sophomores, lashed six each.
Gilbert was dominant at net defensively. Not overly tall, she utilized her jumping ability and timing to come up with nine blocks, the majority against the Gaels' middle hitters.
"I was very impressed with how Molly played," Howard said. "With young girls you never know how they're going to come out, but she did a great job of taking away their middle hitters, and we knew that was where they were the strongest."
Ashley Price delivered 18 assists, while Kehoe doled out 15 to go along with 10 digs.
WCHS (6-3, 1-0 NCC) missed just three of 96 serves and piled up 11 aces; Schnathorst had four, Price three.
St. Edmond (5-3, 0-1 NCC) started off Set No. 1 by scoring five of the first six points. WCHS eventually took the lead at 8-7, part of a 6-0 spurt that included two of Schnathorst's aces.
The set see-sawed back and forth before the Lynx finally gained the upper hand at 17-16 on a Schnathorst kill - the start of a 7-0 run - and the Gaels never got closer than five before a Price ace closed it out.
WCHS never trailed in the second set, leading by as many as 14 points. Schnathorst delivered four of her kills during the stanza, and Gilbert rejected three Gael attacks. Myers finished it off with a cross-court kill from the left side of the floor.
But St. Edmond didn't bow down, instead rolling throughout Set No. 3 behind the hitting prowess of Hannah Lentsch, who used a back set to catch the Lynx off guard multiple times, including on set point. The Gaels led by as many as six points.
WCHS fought off three set points before Lentsch slammed the door shut on the rally with a blast from the right side.
That was all the momentum St. Edmond could snag however, as the Lynx returned to form in the fourth set to secure the victory.
"I was happy with how things went," Howard said. "Obviously we'd like to change that third (set), but with our lineup being new I thought the girls did a very good job."
WCHS will now set its sights on hosting the Lynx Invitational on Saturday. All matches will take place in the new gym - multiple courts will be in use - and play will get underway at 9 a.m.