WEBSTER CITY - The Webster City volleyball team would like nothing more than to pull off the upset of the season.
But first things first.
The Lynx (20-12) will begin their postseason journey tonight at home with a Class 4A Region 3 quarterfinal round match against North Central Conference rival Clear Lake (17-14) at 7 p.m. A win would push Webster City into Thursday's semifinal round against top-ranked Charles City (40-1).
DFJ photo by Troy Banning
But don't expect the WCHS players to be thinking about the Comets. Not yet anyway.
"It's my job to get them ready for the next (match), so I'm scouting and looking ahead a little bit, but the girls can't be doing that," WCHS head coach Jess Howard said. "The girls are staying focused (on Clear Lake) because everybody is even right now. It's a whole new season."
WCHS handled the Lions, 3-0, in last week's regular season finale, and Howard doesn't see the quick turnaround rematch as a negative.
"It's good in that we can keep fresh in our minds their strengths and weaknesses, and it gives us a short turnaround time to fix our mistakes," she said. "Hopefully we can come out and be a stronger team this time."
The Lynx possess one of the state's elite front row players in junior outside hitter Kaylee Schnathorst. She led the league in kills and ranks eighth in 4A with 337 entering regional play. Senior middle Bridget Moriarty (133 kills) and sophomore outside Molly Gilbert (118) ranked 20th and 22nd in the NCC.
They'll face a tough Lions' front line of defense, keyed by Taylor Julsen and her 77 blocks. Kaitlyn Pitzen owns 61 blocks, and Brianna Haugen has 57.
But Howard says it's Clear Lake's tough serving that caused problems last week.
"They did get their hands on some of the balls that we hit, but what they're very good at is serving and that's how they took control when they had control (last week)," she said. "We let their servers control the game as opposed to their hitters, so we have to be aggressive with our serve receive this time."
If WCHS can make it 2 for 2 against the Lions, Howard knows the trip to Charles City to face the Comets will be daunting - just not impossible.
"I've seen (Charles City) play and they're solid, but just like any other team they have their weaknesses," Howard said. "Everybody is beatable."
Charles City is led by senior all-state hitter Jesse Sindlinger, who ranks second in 4A in kills with 361, including a .469 kill efficiency. Singlinger is also a three-time individual state golf champion.
Humboldt and Spencer will meet tonight in the other Region 3 quarterfinal, with the winner advancing to the semifinal against No. 12-ranked LeMars.