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No. 11 Humboldt continues perfect season with sweep of Lynx

Finucan adds to her school record digs total with 15 more

HUMBOLDT — Webster City head volleyball coach Jess Howard sang the praises of her team for the way it played defensively here last night.

The fact that WCHS was still swept in three sets says a lot more about the opponent than it does the Lynx.

“I thought our defense played the best it has all year,” Howard said after WCHS fell to 11th-ranked (Class 3A) and unbeaten North Central Conference rival Humboldt, 25-14, 25-16, 25-21. “Our blockers were setting up where they needed to every time and we popped up a lot of balls.”

Humboldt (23-0, 3-0 NCC) simply had too many weapons. The Wildcats, who have dropped just five of 54 sets played this season, pummeled the ball from all over the court, Howard said.

“They’re definitely the hardest hitting team we’ve faced all year,” Howard said. “They come in with a lot of success and they know they’re going to have success.”

The Lynx Achille’s heel was their own offense. WCHS (9-11, 2-2 NCC) made 29 errors at net and rattled off 24 kills, resulting in a negative kill efficiency.

Howard says her team’s deficiencies at net begin with metal preparation, particularly against a team as talented as Humboldt.

“Every one of our hitters did something great on the night,” she said. “We have six hitters that are capable of being great all the time, it’s just about changing that mindset. We have to make the most of every set we get and attack the ball every single time.”

Faith Anderson and Sierra Rattenborg continued to be the offensive catalysts for WCHS, as they smacked seven and six kills, respectively. They combined to hit .087. Livia Kasch added five kills, but she was the only other WCHS player to finish with a positive kill efficiency.

Joslin Gourley distributed 15 of the team’s 23 assists. Alayna Finucan and Jenna Miller had four each.

Finucan once again led the defense with 15 digs. The junior now has 1,204 career digs — the most in program history. She moved past previous record holder Jessica O’Connell (1,169 digs) at the Forest City Invite last Saturday.

She’s earned every single dig that’s she’s got,” Howard said. “She has great instincts on the ball and she just knows how to read hitters. If we can have them hit the ball to her, we have a pretty good chance to run our offense the way we run it.”

With more than a season remaining, it’s plausible that Finucan could reach 2,000 digs and put the school record out of reach of whoever follows in her path.

“Whatever number she hits, we’re going to take what we can get from her,” Howard said. “But she’s playing because she loves the sport, not because she loves hitting high numbers. We know she’s going to break records and we know she’s probably going to put records out of reach for girls some day. But whether she gets a dig or not, if we come out on top, that’s her ultimate goal.”

Kelly Stoakes added 11 digs and Jenna Miller finished with nine. Stoakes and Finucan both had a service ace.

WCHS will take the weekend off and return to action next Thursday with a home match against Algona.

Humboldt 3, Webster City 0

Thursday at Humboldt

Attacks — Faith Anderson 15-19, 7 kills; Sierra Rattenborg 23-27, 6 kills; Reese Casey 11-18, 4 kills; Livia Kasch 9-13, 5 kills; Lexi Nichols 4-9, 2 kills; Joslin Gourley 2-7.

Blocks — Gourley 2, Nichols 2, Anderson 2, Rattenborg 1, Li. Kasch 1.

Digs — Alayna Finucan 15, Kelly Stoakes 11, Jenna Miller 9, Gourley 6, Leah Kasch 5, Alley Odland 4, Rattenborg 3, Nichols 1, Anderson 1, Casey 1.

Assists — Gourley 15, Miller 4, Finucan 4.

Serving — Stoakes 11-11, 1 ace; Finucan 7-8, 1 ace; Le. Kasch 10-10; Gourley 8-8; Odland 8-8; Miller 6-6.

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