After slow start, Norse girls down Saydel

Staff Writer
Story City Herald
After slow start, Norse girls down Saydel

—by Todd Thorson

The 11th ranked Roland-Story girls struggled from the outset against Saydel (5-18) last Thursday night (Oct. 9) in Story City. The first set went back and forth in the early going, as both teams tried to find their flow. Saydel managed to maintain a 2 or 3 point advantage throughout the middle stages of the set before opening up a 20-16 lead late. But the Norse finally found their rythmn and pulled even at 22-all. The home team then recorded the final three points to win a nearly 40 minute first set, 25-22. From there the Norsemen breezed through the second and third sets, winning easily 25-11 and 25-13 to take the match 3-0.

“We struggled with our passing and calling the ball in game one,” said Coach Molly Geise. “The girls learned no matter how talented you are or if you ‘are supposed to win’, you still have to focus on the fundamentals and do them correctly. Once they figured that out they cruised in the last two games.”

Leading the way for the Norse was Lauren Himan, who went 33 for 38 in attacking the net, with 21 kills. Alexa Whipple was 15 for 19 in attacks, with seven kills. Kelsey Polaski had 28 assists. Alexa also dug out 20 returns by Saydel.

Geise did point out her team’s serving deficiencies that continue to be a struggling point for the Norse. Striving for that goal of a 90 percent success rate has been an up hill climb all season for the girls, and the Norsemen were once again inconsistent from the back line. They managed only a 63 for 74 performance for 85 percent, including 16 aces. Alexa went 18 for 22 with two aces. Lauren was a perfect 12 for 12 with five aces. Kelsey was 15 for 17 from behind the serving line, with six aces.

Vollyeball is like any other sport,” commented Geise. “If you don’t focus on the fundamentals, and do them correctly, you are going to make simple errors. Errors on things you have done thousands of times before. We can play at such a high level, but sometimes those simple things are giving us headaches.”

Despite those struggles, the Norsemen girls improved to 14-4 overall this season, having won 10 in a row, and 11 out of their last 12 matches.

Hampton-Dumont Tourney

The R-S girls drew the toughest pool at the Hampton-Dumont tournament on Saturday (Oct. 11), with 1A’s #3 Janesville, 2A’s #12 Denver and 3A’s #9 Iowa Falls-Alden joining the 3A 11th ranked Norsemen for a day of top talent going head to head in Hampton.

In their match against Janesville, the Norse missed a lot of opportunities, especially in the opening set. “We missed six serves, mostly on first serves, so it never allowed us to get a run of a few points going,” stated Coach Geise. Still, the Norse lost game one by only four points, 21-17, and had they done better on those six missed serve the outcome may have been different.

“To serve at only 66 percent (in the first game) and still be that close shows how close we are to a team that’s that good,” Geise explained.

The Norsemen turned their serving around in game two and managed to take a tight 22-20 victory. But after being tied at 11-all in the tiebreaker, Janesville won the final four points to take the match 15-11.

Lauren Himan went 25 for 30 at the net, with 12 kills. Alexa Whipple was 23 for 24, with three kills. Taylor Olson went 7 for 9 in attacks, with one kill. And Jacey Ellis was 5 of 7, with two kills. Kelsey Polaski had 16 assists, while Lauren had 11 digs.

The Iowa Falls match went pretty much like the Janeseville contest.The Norse stayed within striking distance, but dropped two out of three sets. The Norsemen won game one 21-18, but the second set didn’t go as well, as the they lost 21-16. Iowa Falls then took the tiebreaker 15-10.

“Their setter had an amazing setter dump, and we knew it was coming, and had a plan for it, but we just couldn’t execute,” said a disappointed Geise.

Lauren and Alexa led the attack with 17 for 23 and 16 for 17 performances at the net, respectively. Alexa also had nine kills, while Lauren had eight. The Norse girls struggled in the serving department once again, going 39 for 46 for 85 percent.

Getting into the win column didn’t happen in their third pool match against Denver either, as they played hard in game one, only to lose by three at 21-18. But having fought so hard throughout the day, the second game turned out to be just a “blur”, as Coach Geise put it; the Norse falling 21-8.

Having lost all three of their pool matches, the Norse found themselves in the consolation match opposite host Hampton-Dumont. The result was a nice match win for the Norsemen, as they dominated H-D with 21-9 and 21-11 victories; making the bus ride home a little more bearable.

“We ended on a good note, and I think the girls can see how good they are,” concluded Geise. “Now the continued focus on the little things becomes even more important, as that’s the only thing holding us back from winning the big games. I think the girls can feel it. They know how close they are to becoming a big time team. Now they just need to go get it!”

The quick match with H-D was highlighted by Lauren and Alexa’s play once again, as they went 11 of 12 and 8 of 9 in the attack zone, respectively. The serving improved too, as the girls went 37 for 40 for 93 percent.

The Norsemen are heading down the home stretch before tournament time, with a 15-7 record. This week is a busy one, with the Perry tournament taking place last night (Tuesday) before Senior Night occurs tomorrow (Oct. 16) against PCM. The Johnston tourney will close out the regular season on Saturday (Oct. 18).