LYNX WRAP UP NCC SLATE WITH WIN, FINISH SOLO 2ND
WCHS?digs out of early hole, Finucan ties aces school record
IOWA FALLS — A loud, hostile environment and a motivated opponent made for a tougher match than the Webster City volleyball team was probably expecting here last night, but when push came to shove, the Lynx had all of the right answers.
After squandering an early 11-2 lead and eventually dropping the first set, WCHS regained its composure to fend off a scrappy Iowa Falls-Alden club, 3-1, inside the IF-A gymnasium.
It wasn’t necessarily a stellar performance — serve receive and communication were particularly troubling in the opening set — but it was a win that gave WCHS its 20th victory of the season and clinched the runner-up position in the North Central Conference behind 14th-ranked (Class 4A) Humboldt, who wrapped up the title with a 3-0 sweep of Clarion-Goldfield-Dows last night.
“We talked in timeouts that 90 percent of our issues on the court would be resolved by communicating with each other,” WCHS head coach Jess Howard said after the 23-25, 25-17, 25-17, 25-10 win. “(IF-A) plays pretty sound defense and they were able to pop up a lot of hard hit balls, but we can’t let that discourage us.”
Sierra Rattenborg smashed 17 kills in the win and she asserted her authority in the late stages of a back-and-fourth third set and throughout the fourth. IF-A (6-17, 2-5 NCC) went on a 7-0 run in the third to take a 17-16 lead, but WCHS (20-9, 6-1 NCC) answered with nine consecutive points to end the set, four coming on Rattenborg bombs from the left side.
“We want to make sure we’re keying in on whatever hitter is hot and she was getting in there quick and getting through the block,” Howard said of Rattenborg. “For us to get that (run) was huge for us in that game.”
Livia Kasch laced six kills and joined Abby Gallentine with four blocks. Kasch had a pair of snuffs early in the second set to quiet down the loud Cadet crowd and WCHS never trailed after it scored seven of the initial eight points.
Gallentine added four kills and Reese Casey finished with three. Joslin Gourley distributed 30 of the Lynx 32 assists.
Alayna Finucan added another WCHS school record to her resume with the 135th service ace of her career late in the first set. She tied the mark held by Gianna Gourley and will have a chance to take sole ownership on Saturday when the Lynx take part in the Winterset Invite.
“The record, yeah, that’s pretty cool,” Finucan, who already owns the school record for career digs, said. “I knew I needed to get one (last night) to get it.”
Finucan also had a team-high 27 digs, as she threw her body all over the floor, particularly early on to keep rallies alive. Kelly Stoakes produced 17 digs, Gourley pitched in 10 and Alley Odland added eight.
Casey was a thorn in the Cadets’ side from the service line, as she was behind the line 31 times in the match. She was serving when WCHS went on a 7-0 run early in the third set.
A 13-3 spurt in the fourth set essentially ended any hopes IF-A had of pulling the upset, as the Lynx took it from 3-3 to 16-6. Two Rattenborg kills from the outside brought them to match point and Kasch finished it off from the middle of the court moments later.
WCHS had its sights set on a conference title throughout the season, but the players knew it was going to be a tough hill to climb after it lost to Humboldt, 3-0, on Sept. 21.
“We already knew it was over. Kelly and I had talked about that,” Finucan said. “But to finish second, I’m OK with that.”
Howard praised her players for responding to the loss with three straight league wins following the setback against the Wildcats.
“Obviously our goal was to finish on top, but for us to come back mentally tough after that loss was huge for the girls,” Howard said. “They need to keep this success going and carry it into the postseason.”
WCHS 3, IF-Alden 1
Thursday at Iowa Falls
Attacks — Sierra Rattenborg 40-46, 17 kills; Livia Kasch 20-25, 6 kills; Abby Gallentine 6-6, 4 kills; Reese Casey 15-17, 3 kills; Joslin Gourley 1-1, 1 kill; Delainey Bargfrede 1-3, 1 kill.
Blocks — Kasch 4, Gallentine 4, Casey 2, Gourley 2, Bargfrede 2.
Assists — Gourley 30, Alayna Finucan 2.
Digs — Finucan 27, Kelly Stokes 17, Gourley 10, Alley Odland 8, Rattenborg 6, Kasch 4, Casey 3, Cloe Savitski 2, Bargfrede 2.
Serving — Casey 31-31, 2 aces; Finucan 14-14, 1 ace; Kasch 10-10, 1 ace; Rattenborg 10-14, 1 ace; Gourley 16-16; Stoakes 9-9.