LYNX HAVE NO ANSWER FOR MIDDLETON, NO. 3 COWGIRLS
CGD?star bashes 23 kills; WCHS? struggles with serve receive in loss
BY TROY BANNING
WEBSTER CITY — Let’s get this out there right away — Morgan Middleton is a stud. Just her presence on the court makes Clarion-Goldfield-Dows the overwhelming favorite to win the North Central Conference championship this season.
Middleton backed up all of the hype last night inside the WCHS gymnasium, but her presence was just one piece of a lopsided contest that went in the Cowgirls’ favor, 3-0. Webster City was its own worst enemy, particularly its inability to consistently handle the CGD serves, that led to the 25-7, 25-17, 25-9 sweep.
“We completely let (the server) at different times control the game,” WCHS head coach Jess Howard said. “When they had the serve, we didn’t do what we needed to do to be aggressive from the beginning. That’s got to be an area where we’re strong all of the time to be able to compete.”
Third-ranked (Class 3A) CGD (6-0, 1-0 NCC) rattled off 10 service aces, six by Jadyn Jondle, and other than a few tense moments in the middle of the second set, the Cowgirls controlled the match throughout.
CGD scored 17 of the first 20 points in the opening set, the first four of the second set, and then reeled off an 8-0 run early in the third to put the match out of reach. And it all came back to the serve.
“They’re aggressive servers and hit their spots, but we were just a little too flat-footed to be able to run our offense like we wanted to,” Howard said. “Knowing you want your hands on the ball all the time is what we need to be focusing on.”
And when WCHS did handle the serve and force rallies, Middleton was there the majority of the time to slam the door. The all-state outside hitter bashed a match-high 23 kills, including 10 in the second when the Lynx (3-5, 0-1 NCC) kept it close for a time.
WCHS led 10-8 in the second following a Sierra Rattenborg kill and Lexi Nichols block of Middleton, but the Cowgirl star answered with back-to-back rockets from the left side to ignite an 8-2 run.
“They feed her the ball all the time and it’s hard when you don’t have a 6-foot-2 girl to get up there and get in her face right away,” Howard said. “Lexi did a great job in the second set of rattling her a little bit, but it’s hard to play defense on her because she hits the ball so high.”
Nichols stuffed Middleton twice in the second and finished with six blocks. She also lashed three of the Lynx 12 kills. Rattenborg smacked a team-high four kills.
CGD closed the second set on a 9-3 run to earn the 2-0 cushion. Middleton’s 10th kill of the stanza put an end to it.
Three Jondle aces during a five-point stretch early in the third set put the Cowgirls in command. Middleton cranked out eight more kills in the set as well, and CGD spread the wealth late to put the finishing touches on the victory.
“They’re a group of girls that the majority of them have been together since they were in the fourth grade,” Howard said of the Cowgirls. “They know where each other is going to be, they trust each other and they know who to give the ball to in every situation. They’re a very good team and they’re going to do good things this year.”
Alayna Finucan moved back to libero for WCHS and collected a team-high 11 digs. A two-time all-NCC performer at libero, Finucan shifted to a hitter position at the start of the season, but Howard said her transition back to the familiar position is likely to be permanent.
Jenna Miller came up with seven digs and distributed five assists. She also had a pair of kills.
WCHS will be back on its home court next Thursday evening to take on Hampton-Dumont/CAL at 7:30 p.m.
CGD 3, Webster City 0
Thursday at Webster City
Webster City Statistics
Attacks — Sierra Rattenborg 11-17, 4 kills; Lexi Nichols 6-6, 3 kills; Faith Anderson 5-6, 2 kills; Alley Odland 4-8, 2 kills; Jenna Miller 2-2, 2 kills; Reese Casey 2-4, 1 kill; Joslin Gourley 4-4.
Blocks — Nichols 6, Gourley 2, Anderson 1.
Digs — Alayna Finucan 11, Miller 7, Gourley 5, Rattenborg 2, Anderson 2, Kelly Stoakes 1, Casey 1.
Assists — Miller 5, Gourley 5.
Serving — Gourley 10-10; Finucan 8-8; Odland 2-2; Miller 2-2; Leah Kasch 1-2; Fallon Casey 0-1.