Greene County pushes Hawks’ HOIC slide to 4

JEWELL – The last three weeks have been tough. The players, the coaches, the fans – they’re all feeling the frustration build with each match that somehow slips through their fingers.

And the latest setback was just another example of how fine a line there is between celebrating and searching for answers.

Sitting at 12-4 overall and 4-0 in the Heart of Iowa Conference on Sept. 23, the South Hamilton volleyball team now finds itself stuck in a crater-sized slump with the end of the regular season looming.

Greene County was the latest foe to add to the burn, as the Rams were a little quicker, a little crisper and a whole lot more scrappier in a five-set triumph over the Hawks, 25-22, 25-27, 25-20, 20-25, 15-8, Tuesday night on Coach Jim Marsh Court.

It was South Hamilton’s fourth consecutive HOIC loss and seventh defeat in its last eight matches. Five of the losses have come at the hands of ranked opponents.

“The teams we’ve been playing have been really kind of compatible to us, it’s just that extra oomph that we need,” South Hamilton sophomore outside hitter Ady Wintermote said after delivering 17 kills and 21 digs – both match highs – against the Rams. “We have it and we know we can do it, and we’re just ready to bring it to regionals.”

Hawks’ head coach Cindy Holmes said the effort from her players has never waned. But the confidence? That’s a different story.

“The kids played with a little lack of confidence,” she said. “There are times when we have to learn how to not be defeated when (the opponent) makes that miraculous play. In Game 3 we were going back and forth and we were playing like we were down by five points.”

Neither team ever owned much of a foothold on the bout. There were 41 ties and 16 lead changes, and there wasn’t more than a five-point gap for either side until the fifth set.

South Hamilton (13-11, 4-4 HOIC) finished the fourth set on a 9-4 run to force the tiebreaker and the Hawks jumped out to a 6-4 lead in the fifth. But Greene County (13-12, 5-3 HOIC) responded with an 8-0 spurt to seize command for good and the Rams notched 11 of the final 13 points.

Wintermote said the Hawks had the momentum early in the deciding set, but they simply couldn’t maintain it.

“Momentum in volleyball is definitely a huge thing,” she said. “It’s all about how you finish and I give them props because they’re a pretty good team.”

The Rams owned a 56-49 advantage in kills, but their biggest strength came in the back row. The dove all over the floor, pulled digs out of the rafters and off the net, and oftentimes left the Hawks wondering what they had to do to finish off the point.

“I really take my hat off to Greene County’s defense,” Holmes said. “They did some really athletic things, and for the most part they stayed in sync and pushed our vulnerable parts.”

The Rams piled up 101 digs and five players – Marissa Promes, Mollie Sorber, Bailey Godwin, Emma Saddorus and Stacy Mears – finished in double figures. Anna Moss (15) and Alissa Moss (10) contributed to the Hawks’ 66 digs.

Alyssa Hegland slapped 13 kills and Tiffany Jacobson checked in with 12 and six blocks in the loss.

Mears, Nicole Kuhl and Nadia Fisher were a formidable trio up front for the Rams; they bashed 14, 13 and 11 kills, respectively.

South Hamilton will get one final chance to finish above .500 in the league on Thursday when it hits the road to take on CMB.