Energetic Lynx pull upset over 11th-ranked Garrigan

Dawson and Schwandt take over in clinching set; Woodle a star in back row

Webster City’s Halle Mason (8), Cassidy Nerland (16) and Zoey Woodle (right) swarm to Kamry Dawson after Dawson put down the match-ending kill in the Lynx 3-1 victory over 11th-ranked (Class 1A) Bishop Garrigan Monday night inside the WCHS gym. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

WEBSTER CITY — The bright red cheeks and sweat still dripping off Kamry Dawson’s forehead indicated it hadn’t been easy. But that’s also what made it so rewarding.

And, finally, the Webster City volleyball team had a signature win to show everyone, the players included, that perseverance and togetherness are the building blocks to success.

WCHS (6-22) sprinkled in a little bit of everything — energy, blocking prowess, power at net, a cagey back row, the ability to rally, and the list goes on and on — Monday night, as head coach Jess Howard’s club sent 11th-ranked (Class 1A) Bishop Garrigan (15-10) back to Algona with its fourth consecutive loss, 3-1.

Dawson powered the upset with 13 kills, including six in the match-clinching fourth set. The junior middle blocker swatted the final point to the floor in all three sets the Lynx won. It was only fitting she was the player all of her teammates ran towards after she went high from the left side and slammed the ball into an open area to finish off the Golden Bears.

“My setters kept telling me that the ball was coming to me, so I knew I had to get it down,” Dawson said after the Lynx 25-23, 28-26, 15-25, 25-22 victory inside a sweltering WCHS gymnasium. “It feels good when the setters do that. It gives me motivation.”

Stacey Meyer (6) and Cassidy Nerland (16) supply the defensive wall at net for Webster City during the second set against Bishop Garrigan on Monday. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

Adalie Schwandt pitched in 11 kills in the victory. The sophomore nearly matched Dawson kill for kill in the fourth set and cranked out five in the stanza. She also collected three blocks against a formidable Garrigan attack.

“It’s great as a team just to finally have that feeling that we won,” Schwandt said. “From all of those losses, coming back with a big win here at home is great. Coach Howard has said that consistency is a big thing … we’re starting to get that consistency and being able to work together as a team.”

Garrigan’s Gracie McGuire led all attackers with 22 kills and teammate Kaylyn Meyers laced 11. But the Golden Bears controlled only the third set; time after time, their hard shots were dug up by Lynx libero Zoey Woodle, who had the match of her life en route to a career-high 31 digs. Cassidy Nerland and Halle Mason played their roles as well with 19 and 15 digs, respectively.

WCHS players dove all over the floor to pop balls up and keep rallies alive.

“We stress (the back row) all the time,” Howard said. “The front can’t do what they’re going to do unless the set is there and it all stems back to the beginning of the play. When we can get that pass between the 10-foot line and the net, it’s going to work well for us.

WCHS junior Kamry Dawson blasts one of her 13 kills as her teammates watch during the Lynx 3-1 victory over Bishop Garrigan on Monday. Dawson laced six of her kills during the match-deciding fourth set. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

“We knew they were going to feed (McGuire) a lot and the blockers did a good job of sticking to their assignment. Then Zoey did a great job of watching the girl’s eyes. She gave away where she was going with the ball every time, and even when (Woodle) was out of position she was able to get an arm on the ball.”

The blocking by WCHS in the opening set sent the message that Garrigan was in for a fight. The Lynx, who only trailed after the first point, had five solo snuffs for points and built their lead to as big as seven points following a Cynthia Whitehill ace for a 17-10 edge.

Garrigan closed to within 21-20 courtesy of a 4-0 run and twice more had the serve with a chance to knot the set, but each time WCHS had the answer. It was 24-23 when Dawson took a set from Sarah Vogelbacher in the middle of the floor and crushed it home.

The Golden Bears responded and owned the advantage throughout much of the second set. WCHS didn’t take its first lead until a Garrigan attack crashed into the net for 18-17. The Lynx were eventually forced to fend off four set points — kills by Dawson and Nerland, one of her seven on the night, took care of two of them — before they gained the upper-hand on a cross-court shot by Mason for 27-26. Dawson got the call one point later and sent the ball off the Garrigan block to complete the rally.

“To get all the way to 25, finishing a set and feeling that victory and just to be able to come back strong … they experienced a lot and showed a lot of perseverance,” Howard said.

WCHS senior setter Sarah Vogelbacher puts the ball up at the net during Monday’s win over Bishop Garrigan. She dished out 21 assists. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

The hiccup in the third set didn’t send WCHS reeling as the fourth set got underway. A quick block and kill by Nerland pushed the Lynx out to a 4-1 lead and they never trailed after the first point.

A 5-0 run midway through, highlighted by a Dawson kill and Whitehill’s third ace, broke it open and gave WCHS a 17-12 advantage.

Schwandt and Dawson, the Lynx middles, were the catalysts down the stretch, as four of the final six points came off their kills. Schwandt blistered the ball down to make it 23-19 and, a few points later, Dawson put down back-to-back slams to finish it off.

“When you play in the middle, it’s a very tough position to play because you have to block every time and then transition back every time,” Howard said. “It’s hard to get used to the tempo, but they’re really starting to get into that tempo game and just allowing the setter to put the ball in their hands because they’re in the right spots.”

Schwandt, a first-year starter, admits that it hasn’t been easy to learn the speed of play. But, match by match, she’s starting to understand what it takes.

Lynx junior Cynthia Whitehill celebrates a point during the third set Monday night. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

“I’m feeling way more comfortable now and I think I finally get it,” she said. “The upperclassmen have been super. Having those teammates that are there for you has helped a lot.”

Vogelbacher and Whitehill orchestrated the Lynx offense and combined for 36 assists. They also got their arms on 12 digs.

Clara Klein came off the WCHS bench and provided a defensive spark with four blocks, the same number that Nerland generated.

WCHS will attempt to make it back-to-back home victories tomorrow evening when it entertains Clear Lake on Senior Night. Play will get underway at 7:30 p.m.

Webster City 3, Bishop Garrigan 1

Monday at Webster City

Attacks — Kamry Dawson 32-38, 13 kills; Adalie Schwandt 28-35, 11 kills; Cassidy Nerland 19-27, 7 kills; Halle Mason 19-24, 3 kills; Stacey Meyer 10-12, 2 kills; Clara Klein 5-6, 2 kills.

Blocks — Nerland 4, Klein 4, Schwandt 3, Dawson 2, Meyer 2.

Digs — Zoey Woodle 31, Nerland 19, Mason 15, Sarah Vogelbacher 7, Cynthia Whitehill 5, Schwandt 4, Dawson 2, Meyer 1, Klein 1.

Assists — Vogelbacher 21, Whitehill 15, Mason 2.

Serving — Whitehill 18-18, 3 aces; Mason 15-15, 1 ace; Nerland 18-18; Woodle 13-13; Vogelbacher 10-10; Schwandt 17-18.