Norse sweep No. 8 Nevada for big HOIC win: R-S splits two matches at Gilbert

Joe Randleman
Story City Herald
Roland-Story's Dani Grady (10) celebrates her team's victory over Nevada in the second set of their Heart of Iowa Conference match Sept. 17 in Story City. The No. 11 (3A) Norse went on to sweep the No. 8 Cubs for an impressive win.

FOREST CITY - The Roland-Story volleyball team split four matches at the Forest City Invitational Saturday.

The Norse, ranked 11th in Class 3A, swept Forest City (21-10, 21-10) and Webster City (21-14, 21-5) during the tournament. They came up short in three sets to Saint Ansgar (19-21, 21-16, 11-15) and were swept by a Clarion-Goldfield-Dows rated third in 3A, 21-8 and 21-9. 

The four-match split put Roland-Story at 13-4 on the season.

Madison Geise had 39 assists, 11 kills, 10 digs and three blocks over the four matches for the Norse. Reagan Schmitz stepped up with 12 digs and nine kills, Reagan Vogelaar stepped eight kills and five digs, Reagan Barkema nine kills and four blocks, Madison Martindale nine kills and five blocks and Megan Greenfield five kills.

Both Greenfield and Martindale were injured during the meet.

Ava Charlson had 18 digs, Dani Grady 16 and Reagan Faber four.

STORY CITY - Roland-Story head volleyball coach Molly Geise might have to breakout an old sweater pretty soon.

After Thursday’s convincing sweep of old rival Nevada in Story City the Norse are in position to win the Heart of Iowa Conference title outright for the first time since they went 11-0 in 2005.

“I had an ugly striped sweater in the picture when we won it,” Molly Geise said. “It’s been a long time since we’ve outright had it.”

Roland-Story (11-2) entered Thursday’s match ranked 11th in Class 3A. Nevada (9-7) was ranked eighth and the defending conference champions.

With Gilbert and North Polk moving to the Raccoon River Conference this year the HOIC title race looked to be between Roland-Story and Nevada. But it still figured to be an uphill climb for the Norse.

Nevada has had a stranglehold on the HOIC over the last decade. The Cubs have won seven of the last eight conference championships, including the last two.

On Thursday Roland-Story refused to submit to the Cub mystique.  

The Norse overcame an early 6-3 deficit in the first set to pull off a 25-21 victory. The second set was all Roland-Story, with the Norse jumping out to a 5-0 lead and coasting to an impressive 25-12 victory.

With the match on the line Roland-Story wasn’t to be denied in the third set. Nevada fought back from an early 10-4 deficit to get within a point, but the Norse respended with a 7-1 run and coasted to a 25-16 victory to complete the sweep and stay perfect in the HOIC at 3-0.

“It was so rewarding to see all the things we’ve been working on in practice and how we adjusted to doing it in a  game,” Molly Geise said. “We weren’t going up to swing just to swing or get to the serving line and just serve it to get it in. That’s what we were kind of doing in the first several matches. We really talked about having a purpose.”

Roland-Story had an aggressive attack all night. But the Norse also played smart, using several off-speed attacks and mixing up attacks from both the front and back row.

A strong block also proved huge for Roland-Story. 

Blocking was Nevada’s strength entering the match. Led by all-conference hitter Sydney Mosinski Nevada ranks second in 3A for total blocks. 

But on Thursday Roland-Story matched Nevada with 12 blocks on the night.

“I think we worked on staying low the whole time and getting over to block,” Roland-Story middle blocker Reagan Barkema said. “As the match went on I think we did a lot better with that. When they’d start to get on a run we’d put it away with a block.”

Barkema led Roland-Story with four blocks. She also recorded nine kills and made a huge difference serving the ball.

Reagan Barkema had nine kills, nine aces and four blocks in Roland-Story's sweep over Nevada Sept. 17 in Story City.

Roland-Story tallied an impressive 14 aces in the match to just one for Nevada. Barkema was responsible for nine of those, including three straight to end the final set.

“I just felt it,” Barkema said. “I’m not always a great server, but tonight I put it in and went well.”

Roland-Story wants to continue building off of their outstanding effort against the Cubs. 

“Nevada is a great team, but if we want to get to state and reach all of our goals we’ve got to push harder,” Roland-Story setter Madison Geise said. “We’re going to face harder and harder teams.”

But first things first. In order to seal the deal on an outright conference championship the Norse must take down Saydel on Sept. 29, South Hamilton Oct. 6 and West Marshall Oct. 15.

“We haven’t been conference champs for a long time,” Roland-Story senior Dani Grady said. “We’re not there yet, but I think we can do it.”

Geise ended up with 20 assists, 12 digs and eight kills against Nevada. Reagan Schmitz had 18 digs, five kills and two blocks; Ava Charlson 15 digs,  Grady 10 digs, Megan Greenfield seven kills, two blocks and eight digs; Reagan Vogelaar two kills and Reagan Faber two aces.

Roland-Story libero Ava Charlson goes for a dig during the second set of the Norse sweep over Nevada Sept. 17 in Story City.

Sydney Mosinski led Nevada with seven kills and five blocks. Katelyn Kingsbury had 18 assists, nine digs and three kills and Maddie Dunham 13 digs, four kills, three assists and two blocks.

GILBERT - Roland-Story found out it had a lot of grit and determination in a triangular meet with former Heart of Iowa Conference foes North Polk and Gilbert Sept. 15.

North Polk and Gilbert both moved to the Raccoon River Conference this season and they presented big challenges to a Roland-Story team rated 11th in Class 3A. Gilbert entered the meet ranked 10th in 4A.

Roland-Story played North Polk in the second match of the evening. The Comets had just dropped a five-set war with Gilbert and they seemed out for revenge against Roland-Story by jumping out to a 9-0 lead.

Roland-Story gradually regrouped and pulled within 13-10. But the Norse could never fully get over the hump in a 25-17 loss.

But just as it looked like North Polk was going to roll, Roland-Story dug down deep and flipped the script. The Norse dominated the second set, building an early 16-8 lead and cruising to a 25-19 victory.

That sent the two teams into a rally game. Roland-Story picked up right where it had left off jumping out to a 12-5 lead and coasting to a 15-9 victory to take the match.

“We’ve never been in that situation before,” Roland-Story head coach Molly Geise said of her team coming back for the win. “You kind of find out what your team is made of. I saw a lot of heart and a lot of fight.”

The Norse weren’t able to keep the momentum going through the Gilbert match. They were swept in two sets, but fought the Tigers hard in each one - losing by scores of 25-23 and 25-20.

Madison Geise had 33 assists, 11 digs, 10 kills, three blocks and one ace over the two matches for Roland-Story. Megan Greenfield recorded 15 kills, 11 digs and one ace; Reagan Barkema 10 kills, six blocks and two aces; Reagan Schmitz 20 digs, five kills and two blocks, Reagan Vogelaar four kills and three digs and Madison Martindale three kills and blocks apiece.

Ava Charlson had 30 digs at the libero for Roland-Story. Dani Grady tacked on 12 digs and Reagan Faber added four.