Senior night, two tournaments keep R-S VB girls busy
—by Todd Thorson
The vollyeball regular season finished with a flourish last week as the Roland-Story girls competed in two tournaments, plus hosted Senior Night on Thursday (Oct. 16) to honor their seven seniors on this year’s squad. On Tuesday (Oct. 14) they took part in the Perry Tournament, before finishing the week with the Johnston tourney on Saturday, against some rather formidable larger schools. The end result was a 9-match week, including four each at Perry and Johnston in a span of just four days. The Norse now stand at 21-10 overall this season, and just this past week fell from their #11 ranking in Class 3A.
The Norse played well at Perry, and according to their Head Coach Molly Geise, played well enough to win the tournament had it not been for the presence of a strong Woodward-Granger team in the tournament. “They played their best against us and played rather close with the rest of the teams (as well),” said Geise.
The Norsemen opened against W-G and lost a hard fought three set match, 15-21, 21-17 and 11-15. The R-S girls adjusted well in game two, as their middle hitters began to cause W-G some problems. “Their middles were cheating to block our outside hitters and Kelsey (Polaski) just kept setting up our middles,” explained Geise. “Our outside hitters are obviously dominant, but our middle and right side hitters can also put the ball away (too).”
Lauren Himan led the way against W-G with a 24 for 27 performance at the net, with 12 kills. She also had eight digs. Alexa Whipple was 8 of 10 in attacks with one kill and eight digs as well. Jacey Ellis was perfect at the net, going 7 for 7 with five kills. Kelsey ended up with 20 assists in the W-G match. Also seeing action were Taylor Olson (4 for 7, with two kills) and Maggie Schnurr (4 for 5, with four kills).
After losing initially to W-G, the Norse reeled off three consecutive wins, downing Ballard, 21-12 and 21-18, Saydel, 21-12 and 21-13, and host Perry, 21-15 and 21-13. Against Ballard, Lauren went 20 for 21 with 13 kills. Alexa was 7 for 7 with 6 kills and Jacey was 5 for 5 at the net with 4 kills. Kelsey had 20 assists once again. The Norse also served well, going 38 for 41 for 93 percent, with six aces.
The Saydel match saw their serving performance falter a bit, but the Norsemen just overmatched their opponents physically for Saydel to stay in the contest. The Norse rarely missed their chances at the net, with Lauren, Alexa, Jacey and Kesley all nearly perfect in the attack zone - 12 for 12, 6 for 7, 7 for 7 and 4 for 4, respectively. Lauren and Alexa led in kills with 7 and 5, respectively.
In the final match of the tourney, Lauren again led the charge with a 12 for 15 performance and 11 kills. Alexa was 8 of 9 with 3 kills, and Jacey went 5 for 5, with 3 kills as well. Taylor Olson also saw some extended action, going 7 for 10 with 2 kills. And Kelsey dished off 17 assists.
R-S 3, PCM 0
Senior Night last Thursday was a night to remember for the Norsemen seniors, and “it couldn’t have been more perfect,” said Coach Geise. “Our team did a lot of special things to honor the seniors, and when it came to our play, we played perfectly as a team.”
The Norsemen rolled to 25-9, 25-15 and 25-9 victories to take the match easily. Taylor Olson had a stand out performance, going 11 for 12 at the net with 7 kills. Lauren Himan continued to impress with her strong play, going 19 for 23 in attacks with 12 kills, and Alexa Whipple was 12 for 13 with 4 kills. A definite 1-2-3 punch by the Norse on this night.
Kelsey Polaski had 17 assists and 9 digs. Lauren had 10 digs, while Alexa had six. Alyssa Miller served and passed well, hitting 12 of 13 from the back serving line with two aces. Lauren went 15 for 18 in serves, with 8 aces, and Alexa was 10 of 14 in the serving department, with 3 aces.
Senior reserve players also saw some action. Bryce Holmgren came into serve each set and went 6 of 7. Kaylee Knutson and Hope Sievers each had a kill, and Mari Henrichs played some minutes in the back row.
“No ball seemed to drop on our side and we played ‘our game’ even when PCM wasn’t playing our pace,” added Geise.
The Norsemen girls competed in the always-tough Johnston tourney once again to close out the regular season. They managed to finish second in pool play, losing to Valley (WDM) 21-12 and 21-8, before winning over Newton, 21-13 and 21-14, and Urbandale, 17-21, 21-16 and 15-10. The competition was strong, but the Norse stayed with every one of their opponents throughout the day. In their final match of the tournament, the Norsemen ran into a strong Dowling team that had won their pool. The Maroons defeated the Norse 25-10 and 25-21.
The day didn’t start well for the R-S girls, as they struggled from the outset against Valley, making unforced error after unforced error. “We had eight errors each in hitting, serving and passing, along with one blocking error,” commented Coach Geise. “That totals 25 points we just gave Valley. That was very uncharacteristic of us. Sometimes you are just going to have one of those games. We didn’t dwell on the negative, we just moved forward and took the positive. When we were on offense, we were very effective against one of the best teams in the state.”
Lauren Himan was 15 for 18 against Valley with 4 kills. Alexa Whipple went 6 for 6 at the net, with 2 kills. And Kelsey had just 8 assists. The Norse served only 21 times and were successful on just 13 of those, for 62 percent.
The Norsemen bounced back against Newton and Urbandale. “I think Urbandale was a bit surprised by the Norse, which always makes the team feel pretty good,” said Geise. “If we play confident and not scared we can beat anyone.”
Lauren went 16 for 18 at the net with 13 kills against Newton. She also served at a 10 for 11 pace, with 4 aces. Alexa was 11 for 13 with 4 kills. Kelsey had 14 assists. Maggie Schnurr was 3 for 4 in attacks with 4 kills.
Against Urbandale, Lauren and Alexa had big matches. Lauren went 26 for 29 at the net, while Alexa was a perfect 24 for 24 in attacks. Both had 10 kills each. Kelsey had 19 assists, and also took her turn at the net, going 10 for 11 with 3 kills. Taylor Olson was 8 of 9 with 2 kills. Jacey Ellis went 5 of 6 with 2 kills. And Maggie was 3 for 3 with 1 kill.
By virtue of finishing second in their pool, the Norsemen were matched up against Dowling, who had won their pool. They are a very aggressive serving team and it took the R-S girls awhile to finally adjust to that. After the Maroons cruised to a 15 point win in the first set, the Norse finished strong in the second set, losing by only four points. That pleased the Norsemen’s coach: “I was proud of the way we finished the match,” she said.
Urbandale, who the Norse defeated in pool play, ended up winning the consolation bracket, which made Coach Geise and the girls feel pretty good considering the level of competition they faced on Saturday. “We belonged in the upper half of a very tough tournament,” stated Geise. “We were the only non-5A school in the championship bracket.”
Lauren went 17 for 20 in the attack zone, with 10 kills and 9 digs. Alexa remained perfect in her attack mode, going 9 for 9 with 3 kills and 13 digs. Taylor was 5 of 6 at the net, and Jacey was 3 for 3. Alyssa Miller led in digs with 20. And Kelsey had 10 assists.
“All the matches we have played in these past few weeks are making us so much better,” concluded Coach Geise. “We are in a great place to begin post season play.”
The Norsemen girls will open up 3A Regional play on Monday, Oct. 27, against South Hardin in Story City at 7 p.m. Second round action will be held Thursday, Oct. 30, also in Story City, with the R-S/South Hardin winner facing off against the Aplington-Parkersburg/Columbus Catholic winner at 7 p.m.