Lynx ride strong starts to 4-set win over CGD

WEBSTER CITY – You start well, you play well. That’s just how it goes on the volleyball court, and that’s the message that Webster City head coach Jess Howard delivers to her players before the start of every set.

Her players obviously listened last night.

Sparked by quick starts in the sets they won, the Lynx overcame a second-set hiccup to topple North Central Conference rival Clarion-Goldfield-Dows in four, 3-1 (25-19, 23-25, 25-19, 25-22), inside the WCHS gymnasium.

WCHS opened the first set on a 7-0 spurt and then scored four of the initial five points in the third set. It was more of the same in the fourth when the Lynx stormed out to a 7-1 advantage.

“It was huge for us to get that momentum right away,” Howard said after her team never trailed in the first and fourth sets. “It allowed us some breathing room towards the end (of sets) when we needed it. Our legs got to us a little bit at the end of the fourth game, so the lead at the start really helped to propel us.”

Consistency across the board also keyed the victory. WCHS (11-9, 2-2 NCC) didn’t always get the kill, but defensive tenacity constantly put the pressure on CGD and the errors piled up, particularly in the first set when the Lynx led by as many as eight points.

“We were giving them the ball and allowing them to make mistakes and we’ve got to be the team that continually does that,” Howard said.

Libero Gianna Gourley had what Howard called her best defensive night, as she registered a match-high 21 digs. Many of the swings from the Cowgirls’ front row ended up in her arms.

“We had our defense set up for specific spots and their outsides adjusted to that,” Howard said. “Gianna did a great job of reading that and figuring out where our block was going to be.”

Taylor Schnathorst added 12 digs and 12 kills in the win – not a bad birthday present for the now 18-year old. Olivia Myers also blasted 12 kills from the middle of the floor for the Lynx. Halle Mason added six kills and Cassidy Nerland finished with four.

Sarah Vogelbacher distributed 24 assists and Courtney Lampman put up 18 for the Lynx.

Behind the service line, WCHS collected nine aces – Gourley led the charge with four – against just five mistakes. Aggressive serving helped put CGD (10-10, 2-3 NCC) back on its heels.

“The ironic thing is the game where we had the most service errors was in the first one and I thought we controlled that all the way through,” Howard said. “But the consistency that we had was huge for us.”

Lampman served six consecutive points to aid the Lynx 7-0 start in the opening set. Schnathorst and Myers controlled the front row with three kills each.

There were nine ties and three lead changes in the second set, a stanza in which the Cowgirls seized the lead for good at 17-16. WCHS fought off a pair of set points before CGD’s Hannah TerHark came up with a solo block to put it away.

Schnathorst righted the ship for the Lynx in the third with five of the team’s eight kills. WCHS put together a 5-0 run midway through to build an insurmountable 19-13 lead and Myers gave her squad the 2-1 edge with a bomb from the middle of the floor.

WCHS led 19-12 in the fourth set when the Cowgirls mounted their charge. They got it all the way back to a tie set at 21-all, but Mason came through with back-to-back kills from the left side of the court to give the Lynx the advantage.

Mason also contributed six digs. Rihanna Wood had six as well.