No. 4 W-SR sweeps Lynx in 4A?regional semifinal for 2nd straight year
WAVERLY — The tears that usually accompany the end of the road were absent as the Webster City volleyball players lined up and hugged it out for the final time Tuesday night.
Instead, there were smiles — for a season that had plenty of bright moments, and for a performance that could have been downright disastrous had the players opted to back down.
But they fought. Right up until the bitter end.
Fourth-ranked Waverly-Shell Rock (45-6) made it look easy early on, but had to work to put WCHS (19-17) away in three sets in a Class 4A Region 3 semifinal. It was the second consecutive season in which the Lynx were put to pasture by the Go-Hawks in the regional semifinal round.
“We went out there with positive attitudes and just played our hearts out,” Adalie Schwandt, one of four WCHS seniors, said following the 25-9, 25-16, 25-16 setback. “It’s pretty tough to see it end knowing our team has worked so hard this season.”
W-SR will host Monday’s regional final against ninth-ranked Dallas Center-Grimes (31-6) where a spot in the state tournament field will be on the line.
In truth, the Go-Hawks simply had too many weapons for the Lynx, who were forced to play catch-up from the opening point. Avery Beckett and Haley Eckerman both smacked eight kills, and Jaz Westmoreland had six more for W-SR, which put up a .286 kill efficiency. Beckett and Westmoreland have both topped 300 kills on the season.
The talented trio of hitters, combined with a stingy back row, were too much for the Lynx, who struggled with their attacks throughout the match. WCHS had 33 errors against just 25 kills and walked off the floor with a negative kill efficiency (-.091).
Schwandt did everything she could to keep WCHS competitive with a match-high 13 kills, seven of which came in a back-and-forth third set — easily the best game for the Lynx.
“In the third set we just knew we had to give it everything we had,” Schwandt, who hit .308 and also collected five digs, said. “Our goal was to push it to another set.”
Faith Anderson and Grace Hoversten both finished with four kills in the loss. Morgan Gallentine added three more to go along with 13 assists.
WCHS took its first lead of the match on an early service ace by Haley Foster in the third set and the advantage grew to as many as three points. One of Schwandt’s smacks made it 8-7 in the Lynx favor, but from there W-SR slowly regained its footing.
A 6-0 Go-Hawk run upped their cushion to 18-10. Two Schwandt kills sandwiched between a Jenna Miller ace pulled the Lynx within five, 20-15, but W-SR was able to close it out with a 5-1 spurt.
“I don’t know if we ever come out on top against these guys, but we never backed down,” WCHS head coach Jess Howard said. “To see the perseverance throughout the match was good to see … they didn’t give up, that’s for sure.”
Early on it looked like W-SR would sprint into the next round. A bevy of errors on attacks, passes and serve receives quickly put the Lynx in a hole, as the Go-Hawks went on first set runs of 5-1, 8-1 and 6-1.
“In that first game, we just played really tight,” Howard said. “Our arms weren’t loose and our passing was a little off, but we adjusted well.”
A much tighter second set ensued. WCHS was within 12-10 following a Foster block from the left side, but W-SR scored four of the next five points to take command.
Lynx sophomore libero Alayna Finucan became only the fourth player in program history to reach 1,000 career digs in the second set. Her 10th dig of the match pushed her to the new plateau, and a match-high 20 sent her into her junior campaign next fall with 1,010.
Finucan was happy to reach the milestone — is 2,000 career digs really a possibility? — but also tried to downplay it following the match.
“I’m just playing for my team,” she said. “I try to get the ball up for my setters and help my team.”
Finucan was again all over the floor, a big reason why WCHS remained competitive in the final two sets.
“Our defense played really well, Alayna especially with reading their hitters really well,” Howard said. “She works very hard at perfecting her game … I’m really glad we get her for two more years.”
Foster pitched in eight digs, Gallentine had four, and Jenna Miller and Kelly Stoakes added three each. Miller also had eight assists and two aces.
Schwandt finished her career with 672 kills, the second-most during the Howard era. She trails only Kaylee Schnathorst, the program’s all-time leader with 1,211.
Waverly-SR 3, Webster City 0
Class 4A Region 3 Semifinal
Tuesday at Waverly
Attacks — Adalie Schwandt 21-26, 13 kills; Faith Anderson 7-9, 4 kills; Grace Hoversten 7-15, 4 kills; Morgan Gallentine 8-14, 3 kills; Alayna Finucan 3-4, 1 kill; Sierra Rattenborg 5-10; Haley Foster 4-10.
Blocks — Foster 2, Hoversten 1.
Digs — Finucan 20, Foster 8, Schwandt 5, Gallentine 4, Jenna Miller 3, Kelly Stoakes 3, Hoversten 1, Rattenborg 1.
Assists — Gallentine 13, Miller 8, Finucan 2.
Serving — Miller 9-9, 2 aces; Foster 10-11, 1 ace; Gallentine 6-6; Finucan 5-5; Schwandt 5-5; Hoversten 5-6.