FLIP THE SCRIPT
In an early hole, energized Lynx rally for 5-set win over Lions
CLEAR LAKE — Kaitlyn Vanderploeg sent a rocket right at Alley Odland late in the second set Tuesday night. Without quick reflexes, Odland may have been wearing a Spalding tattoo on her forehead for the foreseeable future.
But instead of an empathic kill for Clear Lake’s 6-foot-1 middle hitter, Odland redirected the ball right back over the net and into an open area just out of Vanderploeg’s reach.
Point, Webster City. Set, Webster City.
Energy, Webster City.
Slow out of the blocks against the towering front row of Clear Lake, WCHS upped its intensity starting in the second set, and the highlight play by Odland was just one of many as the Lynx rallied to down the Lions in five sets.
Odland and back row cohorts Alayna Finucan and Kelly Stoakes flustered Clear Lake throughout the final four sets, and the WCHS front row followed suit to help the Lynx claim their 12th consecutive victory over the Lions, 13-25, 25-14, 25-17, 21-25, 15-7.
Clear Lake has not beaten WCHS in more than 11 years — Sept. 19, 2009, to be exact.
“We played like a team. We were all in it, we all trusted each other on the court and it was really fun,” Finucan, who starred again with 33 digs and eight assists, said. “Our energy was so important. Everyone needs to be in it together. You need to look at the other person beside you in the eye and say let’s go.”
Now 16-2 against Clear Lake since 2007, WCHS won a five-set thriller on the Lions’ home floor for the second time in three years. And it was all about flipping the script after Vanderploeg rattled off four first-set kills to lead Clear Lake to the easy win.
“We really adjusted our middle defense to just a single block on the middle hitters and let everybody off to keep that short tip from being effective for them like it was in that first game,” WCHS head coach Jess Howard said. “Then our back row players, as we kept going through, got a better feel for what they were going to do out of the middle and just did a really good job of reading the ball.”
Finucan’s frustrating antics for an opponent were nothing new. The Lynx junior and program’s all-time digs leader was everywhere on the back line. But so too were Stoakes and Odland, who collected 13 and 11 digs, respectively.
“They did what it took to get the ball in the air,” Howard said. “It wasn’t always pretty and it wasn’t always in system, but it gave us a second chance on the ball and that’s what we need out of them every single time.
“(Odland) got a couple of balls that were really tough. (Clear Lake) probably should have had more kills, but we were able to pop a lot of stuff up.”
Sierra Rattenborg led the WCHS offensive attack with 21 kills and Faith Anderson blasted 16 more. They each had three in the final set, including the match-clincher by Rattenborg from the left side of the floor. The Lynx (11-12, 4-2 NCC) never trailed in the fifth set and Clear Lake (6-12, 1-4 NCC) didn’t do itself any favors with six attack and service errors during the stanza.
“We were going in increments, the first to 3, the first 5, that’s kind of our goal,” Anderson said of the fifth set. “It was really important to stay excited and not hang our heads on anything.”
Rattenborg laced six kills in the second set to help WCHS draw even. An 8-0 run on Odland’s serve, a flurry in which Rattenborg hammered home four kills, put the Lynx in command.
Livia Kasch thumped three of her seven kills and Rattenborg tacked on six more in the third set. Anderson also had two kills and a block in an early Lynx rush that propelled them out to a 7-2 cushion. They built the lead to as many as 10 points, 16-6, on a Kasch blast.
But Clear Lake didn’t give in after falling behind 2-1. In the fourth, the Lions bolted out to a 4-1 advantage and later, with the set knotted at 18, took control with a four-point spurt. The Lions scored eight of the final 11 points in the set.
Reese Casey opened the fifth set with one of her two kills for WCHS.
The Lynx piled up 56 kills in the match and hit .167 as a team. Joslin Gourley handed out 26 assists, and the versatile sophomore also bashed five kills to go along with seven digs. Jenna Miller contributed 18 assists and 12 digs.
WCHS will close out its North Central Conference schedule at home next Thursday against Iowa Falls-Alden. Third-place in the league behind third-ranked (Class 3A) Clarion-Goldfield-Dows and 11th-ranked (3A) Humboldt will be on the line.
CGD and Humboldt will meet next Thursday as well to decide which program will hoist the championship trophy.
Webster City 3, Clear Lake 2
Tuesday at Clear Lake
Attacks — Sierra Rattenborg 35-43, 21 kills; Faith Anderson 27-33, 16 kills; Livia Kasch 17-20, 7 kills; Joslin Gourley 10-13, 5 kills; Alayna Finucan 2-2, 2 kills; Reese Casey 11-18, 2 kills; Alley Odland 1-1, 1 kill; Jenna Miller 5-5, 1 kill; Lexi Nichols 3-8, 1 kill.
Blocks — Li. Kasch 2, Nichols 2, Gourley 1.
Digs — Finucan 33, Kelly Stoakes 13, Miller 12, Odland 11, Gourley 7, Li. Kasch 4, Rattenborg 4, Anderson 3.
Assists — Gourley 26, Miller 18, Finucan 8.
Serving — Finucan 24-25, 1 ace; Miller 24-24; Odland 20-20; Stoakes 9-9; Leah Kasch 10-11; Gourley 5-7; Rattenborg 0-1.