Lynx mow down Mohawks in 3 sets, advance to regional semis

Adalie Schwandt (14) celebrates after belting the match-finishing kill in Webster City’s 3-0 win over Mason City on Wednesday. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

WEBSTER CITY — Cassidy Nerland and Halle Mason were two happy teenagers, more focused on their post-match meal than they were their next opponent as they prepared to exit the Mason City High School gymnasium Wednesday night.

The Webster City seniors had earned their smiles. With their volleyball careers on the line, they showed they weren’t quite ready to hang the uniforms up for good.

Mason had her best front-row performance of the season by hitting .636 with seven kills and Nerland sprinkled in six more kills to help power the Lynx past Mason City, 3-0, in a Class 4A Region 5 quarterfinal.

The 25-15, 25-18, 25-18 sweep was the Lynx sixth win in their last 10 matches and set them up to face 14th-ranked Charles City (24-14) in a regional semifinal on Tuesday in Charles City.

“The postseason is like a new season, so you just have to come out strong,” Mason, who also had a team-high 11 digs, said.

Lynx senior Halle Mason (8) lashes one of her seven kills against Mason  City in the regional quarterfinal. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

Kamry Dawson, a WCHS junior middle hitter, led all players with 12 kills. Fellow middle Adalie Schwandt, a sophomore, cranked out five kills and junior Clara Klein provided pop off the bench with three kills.

WCHS (9-25) hit .247 as a team, a considerable uptick from its season average of .108, but more importantly controlled the match throughout by jumping out to early leads and dictating the tempo.

“The girls did a good job of setting the tone for the match at the beginning of all those sets,” WCHS head coach Jess Howard said. “I thought the seniors did a great job of coming out and playing to their potential and that’s the cool thing about the postseason. It doesn’t matter what happened prior to this.”

Grace Tobin led Mason City (2-26) with 11 kills.

WCHS stormed out to a 12-1 lead in the opening set, as five different players laced at least one kill during the stretch. Nerland got on track early with three quick kills, two on tips around the block, and finished with four in the set.

WCHS junior Cynthia Whitehill gets an arm on the ball after it bounced off the net during the second set against Mason City on Wednesday. She had 16 assists and nine digs in the Lynx 3-0 regional victory over the Mohawks. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

“You’ve got to see the court and see what’s open,” Nerland said about the tips. “It’s not always the hard hit ball that wins the point.”

A 5-0 Mason City run midway through the set closed its deficit to 18-10, but seven points is as close as the Mohawks got to the Lynx. Another Nerland tip ended the flurry and Dawson took over down the stretch with three of her set-high five kills.

Mason, who didn’t make an error in 11 chances at net, put the set away with a cross-court shot as she was fading backwards. Remembering the fundamentals she’d been taught helped her ramp up her game.

“I feel like I focused more on getting behind the ball because that’s what I’ve been struggling with in practice,” Mason said.

Mason City’s first lead of the night came at 9-8 in the second set. The Mohawks were in front 13-11 when WCHS said enough is enough and rattled off 10 consecutive points. One of Dawson’s two blocks, a solo snuff on the perimeter, put the Lynx in front to stay, 14-13.

WCHS junior Clara Klein (7) smacks the ball over the Mason City block during the third set Wednesday night in Mason City. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

Mason City stopped the bleeding on a Megan Hollander kill, but three attack errors by the home team down the stretch allowed WCHS to coast to the win and 2-0 lead.

There were seven ties and four lead changes during the early stages of the third set before another Lynx spurt, this time a 5-0 run, put them in charge for good. A wild rally that had both teams diving all over the floor went in favor of WCHS to make it 17-14 and that was the Mohawks’ last gasp.

“That (point) completely changed the third set,” Howard said. “It wasn’t pretty, but it was perseverance. It showed Mason City that we were going to do whatever it took to come out on top.”

Zoey Woodle threw in a service ace late in the set and Schwandt finished it off with a slam from the middle of the floor.

Woodle, the WCHS libero, collected eight digs. Cynthia Whitehill had nine to go along with a team-high 16 assists. Sarah Vogelbacher delivered 14 assists.

DFJ photo/Troy Banning

Neither Nerland nor Mason knew anything about Charles City, including the fact that the Comets would be the Lynx next opponent, but both shrugged when they learned of their resume.

“We’ll go into it and everybody has to come to play that day,” Nerland said. “Nobody expects us to go far, but we can still do a really good job.”

Charles City’s players were in attendance watching on Wednesday. Howard hopes her team’s performance gave them something to think about.

“If we play to our potential 100 percent of the time we are going to be able to compete with any team,” she said. “If we use all of our tools, we’re going to be tough.”

Decorah and third-ranked Waverly-Shell Rock will battle in the other Region 5 semifinal on Tuesday.

Class 4A Region 5 Quarterfinal

Wednesday at Mason City

Webster City 3, Mason City 0

Attacks — Kamry Dawson 20-24, 12 kills; Halle Mason 11-11, 7 kills; Cassidy Nerland 12-21, 6 kills; Adalie Schwandt 8-10, 5 kills; Clara Klein 6-6, 3 kills; Stacey Meyer 1-1.

Blocks — Nerland 2, Dawson 2.

Digs — Mason 11, Cynthia Whitehill 9, Zoey Woodle 8, Nerland 4, Schwandt 4, Meyer 4, Dawson 2, Klein 2, Sarah Vogelbacher 2.

Assists — Whitehill 16, Vogelbacher 14, Nerland 1, Dawson 1, Mason 1.

Serving — Schwandt 19-21 2 aces; Nerland 9-9, 1 ace; Woodle 6-6, 1 ace; Whitehill 17-18, 1 ace; Mason 8-8; Vogelbacher 9-10.