Even a win in the fifth-place match would not have seemed like much of a consolation prize.
Marshalltown watched as Ottumwa took a three-set victory in the last match of the day at the Pat Apgar Varsity Volleyball Invitational on Saturday at the Roundhouse, rallying past the Bobcats in the consolation finals of the eight-team tournament for the second year in a row.
MHS posted a 2-3 record on the day, missing out on a trip to the championship bracket with a three-set loss to Iowa Falls-Alden in the last round of pool play. The Bobcats (2-4) then pieced together a 2-0 triumph over Indianola before falling to Ottumwa in the consolation finals again, this year in three sets.
T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE
Marshalltown’s Eisha Oden, right, and Miranda Smith, center, go up for the block as Iowa Falls-Alden’s Harli Janes (8) swings during pool play at the Pat Apgar Varsity Volleyball Invitational on Saturday at the Roundhouse. Marshalltown went 2-3 on the day as the host Bobcats were defeated by Ottumwa in the consolation finals.
"Some of the teams that we beat, we won and we still didn't get that feeling that you want to feel when you win," MHS head coach Terri Westendorf said. "The girls know what they're capable and I'm glad they will not be satisfied until they play up to their capabilities, but we're just struggling to find how to push ourselves to do that."
Marshalltown opened pool play with a 21-14, 21-11 win over South Hardin, and followed with a 21-19, 21-18 loss to Class 4A No. 4 Waverly-Shell Rock. Iowa Falls-Alden and the Bobcats closed out pool play with the match to decide which team would move into the four-team championship bracket, and the Cadets came away with a 22-24, 21-17, 15-12 nailbiter.
"Iowa Falls-Alden is a great team, although I do feel like we put ourselves in a position to win that match," Westendorf said, "and I think if we could have beat Waverly-Shell Rock, beating a team like that is what our team needs to know they can do it.
Pat Apgar Invitational
Charles City 21-21, Ottumwa 9-7
Charles City 21-21, Indianola 12-10
Charles City 21-21, Iowa City West 13-13
Iowa City West 21-21, Indianola 5-18
Iowa City West 21-21, Ottumwa 10-18
Ottumwa 21-22, Indianola 7-20
Waverly-SR 21-21, Iowa Falls-Alden 17-17
Waverly-SR 21-21, Marshalltown 19-18
Waverly-Shell Rock 21-21, South Hardin 9-11
Iowa Falls-Alden 21-21, South Hardin 14-9
IF-A 22-21-15, Marshalltown 24-17-12
Marshalltown 21-21, South Hardin 14-11
Ottumwa 23-25-25, South Hardin 25-14-12
Marshalltown 25-26, Indianola 14-24
Charles City 25-25, Iowa Falls-Alden 12-15
Waverly-SR 24-25-25, IC West 26-14-9
Ottumwa 25-22-15, Marshalltown 22-25-13
Charles City 25-25, Waverly-Shell Rock 17-21
"I still feel like they're struggling to know that they can beat good teams."
Marshalltown moved into the consolation bracket and eliminated Indianola in the semifinals, 25-14, 26-24, but Ottumwa turned down the hosts in their bid to collect the consolation title, 25-22, 22-25, 15-13.
Neither team scored more than four points in a row during the battle for fifth, and only five times did the Bobcats tally three points consecutively.
Their generally disjoined play had moments of connection but barely any consistent flow.
"I don't think you could say there is one skill that is causing this problem," Westendorf said. "I think we are capable in every single area; it is absolutely 100 percent putting your heart on the line.
"They're extremely capable, but in order to do that you have to be able to run smooth and we're just having a hard time getting smooth. We're making errors that cause us to have a break in our momentum and we've got to get rid of those mental breaks so we can continue to push and continue to get better every game."
One of Ottumwa's two four-point surges was keyed by back-to-back Bobcat swinging errors, giving the Bulldogs an 11-8 lead in the third and deciding set. Marshalltown regained some flow with a cross-court kill by Eisha Oden, and Cassidy Blackford's block and dig helped prolong a point that Miranda Smith finished off with a kill from the middle.
Back within one, Ottumwa's Megan Black caught MHS out of position and bumped a free ball back over the Bobcat defense into the open court.
The two teams exchanged points the rest of the way, and Ottumwa collected the two-point victory.
Smith scored a team-high 12 kills in the match, while Oden had 10 and Lauren Mazour had five. Madi Bellile notched a pair of service aces, Smith had one and Megan Major another. Bellile totaled 17 assists and five digs, while Leiah Paustian notched 15 assists.
Katie Sammons led Ottumwa (4-2) with 12 kills and Black added 11.
For the day, Oden paced the Bobcat attack with 41 kills. Smith tallied 28 kills and a team-best seven blocks to go with 34-for-36 serving and four aces. Mazour added 21 kills, three blocks and 25-for-28 serving with an ace.
Bellile accumulated 82 set assists over the course of five matches, and she was 46-for-48 serving with four aces.
Libero player Emily DeVenney totaled 27 digs while Megan Major added nine digs and was 44-for-45 serving with seven aces.
Morgan Bellile contributed nine kills and eight digs, while Paustian pitched in with 36 assists, eight kills, seven digs, five blocks and two aces.
"They're a great group of girls, we just have got to get them rowing in the same boat the same way," Westendorf said. "They're a smart group of girls, they're talented, we just need to get everybody on fire. We've never been a real cheerleader-type of group, but I do think that energy is something that we are lacking right now.
"These girls have been together through a lot - a lot of softball, a lot of volleyball - for many, many years. I'm having a hard time deciding why they aren't gelling, and I don't think they know either. I just don't think they know how hard they can play, and until they do we're going to struggle."
Class 4A No. 5-ranked Charles City captured the Invitational title with a 2-0 sweep of No. 4 Waverly-Shell Rock - the defending 3A state champions - 25-17, 25-21. The Comets improved to 7-0, while the Go-Hawks upped their record to 8-2 in the young season.
Iowa City West, the defending 4A champs, fell to W-SR in the championship semifinals in three sets. The Women of Troy (4-5) graduated six regulars from last year's title-winning lineup.
The event was the first outing for the South Hardin volleyball squad. The Tigers (0-4) play a pair of NICL West Division matches on the road this week at West Marshall Tuesday and at East Marshall Thursday. The South Hardin Classic is set for next Saturday in Eldora.
Marshalltown picks up with a non-conference contest Tuesday at Pella Christian before participating in the Iowa City West Invitational on Saturday.
"No rest for the weary," Westendorf shrugged. "We have to push ourselves to be more energetic, to attack, to have more fever, to go for it, to go for broke. We're hanging back and waiting for the game to come to us and we have to go take the game.
"Until we do that it's not going to matter how well we can play. It's how well we want to play."