12th ranked R-S girls continue to improve, impress

Staff Writer
Story City Herald
12th ranked R-S girls continue to improve, impress

—by Todd Thorson

The Roland-Story girls’ volleball team broke into the top 15 in Class 3A last week for the first time this season, coming in at No. 12 in the latest poll that came out last Thursday (Sept. 25). And they lived up to that ranking by downing previous No. 12 North Polk 3-1 at Alleman on Tuesday (Sept. 23). They then followed that up with a home victory over CMB in straight sets on Thursday (Sept. 25) in Story City. The Norse girls are now 11-4 this season, and continued to show improvement and progress as their campaign continues.

R-S 3, North Polk 1

Facing a strong North Polk squad (13-7), the Norse took control with a very impressive outing in game one. The entire contest was a back-and-forth affair for the entire four set match. Following a 25-19 victory in the first game, game two was a little bit of a reversal for the Norse, as they played from behind for the majority of the set. But the Norsemen kept their composure and found a way to take game two 25-23 to grab a 2-0 lead in the match. Game two was the difference maker, according to Coach Molly Geise.

Because of that perseverence in game two, which proved crucial in the win, the Norse were able to regroup much better after the Comets took game three. The Comets managed to take set three 25-22, as the Norse perhaps eased up a little following their 2-0 edge. The Norsemen made it interesting, however, by coming back at the end of game three, trailing at one point 22-17, then closing the gap to two at 23-21, before eventually falling by three.

“Maybe we relaxed a bit, but with that, our passing suffered a little bit, which affected the rest of our game,” said Coach Geise of the game three outcome. “But once again, the great composure of this team almost got us back in it in game three.”

As expected with two fine teams, game four was a back-and-forth exchange. But in the end, the way the Norsemen girls have been finishing matches lately, their level of “heady play” was the key to victory, 25-22, as Roland-Story won the match 3-1.

“Most teams can talk about how they’re not going to let mistakes affect them or get down on themselves,” continued Geise, “but this team really has that aspect of the game figured out.”

Lauren Himan had a career-high game by posting 34 kills, which is undoubtedly a school record. (Geise is 99 percent sure it is a new high mark in that category.) Lauren went 47 for 62 in attacks, and also served at a 21 for 23 pace with five aces, to have one of the finest performances of her career.

“She’s played against, or with, several of their players so she knew she had to have some different shots and mix it up,” said Geise. “We talked about how we thought their outside hitters, who back off the net when she’s hitting, would probably not be able to handle her cross court shot (at the 10 foot line), and she uses that a lot. The thing about Lauren is that teams can scout her and try to stop her from doing certain things, but then she just does something different. She’s got a full arsenal and a (full) bag of tricks.”

Alexa Whipple also had a strong game, going 30 for 35 at the net, with 12 kills.

Kelsey Polaski continues to impress with her floor game, dishing off 47 assists against the Comets. “She has the ability to set up just about any ball high and outside, which, with this team, works wonders,” commented Geise. Kelsey was also 10 of 11 in attacks with two kills, and 15 for 17 from the serving line.

Maggie Schnurr had some key blocks (4), going 7 for 7 at the net as well, with four kills. She also had the match-winning kill. And Jacey Ellis came in late in game four and, according to her coach, was a big factor in giving the Norse the boost they needed to fight for the match win.

Hannah Becker and Lilly Lomica led the Comets with 30 for 33 and 26 for 28 performances at the net, respectively. Hannah had 17 kills, while Lilly posted 11.

“It was an exciting win,” concludeed Coach Geise. “When you play that well and beat somebody with the level of skill that North Polk has you need to be proud. This win propelled us into the state rankings, as we took North Polk’s place at number 12, moving them down to 15.”

R-S 3, CMB 0

Things started off well once again for the Norse girls on Thursday in Story City against CMB (3-7). With the Norsemen leading 11-5 in game one, Lauren Himan stepped to the serving line and reeled off five out of seven ace serves to put the home team up for good 18-5, Roland-Story took game one easily 25-8. From there, the R-S girls never looked back. Lauren would end the night with 14 ace serves. The Norse would go on to take games two and three to close out the match, 25-17 and 25-10.

“Lauren’s serve was on and CMB just looked scared,” said Coach Geise of the impressive start to the match.

Himan went 20 for 24 in attacks with 12 kills as well, to lead the Norse. Alexa Whipple was 19 for 22 at the net, with five kills. And Taylor Olson was 6 of 7 in attacks with three kills. Kelsey Polaski had 26 assists. Alexa dug out 12 returns from CMB. And the Norse continued to show improvement in the serving department, posting a 67 for 73 performance for 92 percent, including 23 ace serves.

Kaylee Knutson and Jacey Ellis also came into the match to play in the middle and did a great job for the Norsemen. “It goes to show how deep we are on this team,” stated Geise. “(And) all of our seniors contributed (in some way) in this match.”

The Norsemen played their game for most of the match. But with CMB playing a different style of play, Coach Geise was pleased how her team played through the differences between the two teams: “It’s hard when things on the other side (of the net) are running at a different pace. You just have to control what you can control.”

Coach Geise was also pleased at how the girls handled the news of being ranked for the first time, as they found out just prior to the match. “They are deserving of the recognition,” she said. “We just need to continue to practice hard and play hard to prove we belong there, and hopefully keep moving up. We have improved a ton in the last few weeks, and it’s fun to watch them grow as a team.”