Lynx start slow, catch fire to beat ’Dogs in 4

WEBSTER CITY – If nothing else, the Webster City volleyball team proved that it can take an early punch to the gut and keep fighting last night inside the WCHS gymnasium.

After all, it’s not how you start. It’s how you finish.

Sluggish and out of rhythm early, the Lynx dropped the first set before storming back to beat Hampton-Dumont in four sets – 21-25, 25-18, 25-12, 25-22 – and open the North Central Conference slate on a positive note.

After opting to tinker with her lineup at the start of the match, WCHS head coach Jess Howard took the blame for the early wobbles. But it may have been just what the Lynx needed, as they upped the energy and enthusiasm over the final three sets.

“The first game is on me because the girls had one day to get used to a new lineup and they weren’t in rhythm,” Howard said. “But games two and three they came out strong and set the tone right away. We need to have that in every game.”

WCHS (1-2, 1-0 NCC) never led in set No. 1 and then never trailed in the middle two sets. Set No. 4 had 15 ties and eight lead changes before the Lynx finally took command for good at 22-21 on one of Taylor Schnathorst’s match-high 17 kills.

Plenty of hands played a significant role in the triumph, but none more so than Schnathorst and middle hitter Olivia Myers.

Schnathorst carried WCHS early on with six first-set kills and then Myers caught fire at net, both offensively and defensively. She blasted 12 of her 13 kills in the final three stanzas and also collected a match-best six blocks.

Six of Myers’ kills came in the third set, half of those in an 11-2 closing run that turned a somewhat tight battle into a runaway.

“Olivia was very efficient and aggressive with her hits,” Howard said. “If it wasn’t a kill for her it was definitely an out of system ball for them and allowed us to stay aggressive. She just did a great job scoring points for us all night.”

Courtney Lampman also played a key role in the third set spurt. She laced a pair of aces during a 7-0 run on her serve and then went to the quick tip for a point to double up the Bulldogs, 22-11.

Halle Mason started the celebration on the Lynx side of the court with a kill from the outside to finish off the match. She had four kills, as did Cassidy Nerland.

Lampman distributed 16 assists, one more than Sarah Vogelbacher. Lynx libero Gianna Gourley was again solid as a rock in the back row with 24 digs, and she also joined Schnathorst with three service aces. Schnathorst produced 10 digs.

“Getting any win is great, but that first win of the season and the first win in the conference are huge for us,” Howard said. “It’s great for building momentum and hopefully we can take that into the weekend (at Saturday’s Algona Invite) and next week when we have another conference match.”