GRUNDY CENTER - Even with plenty of new faces, the Grundy Center volleyball team is one to be reckoned with this season.
The Spartans put their undefeated record and No. 1 ranking up against conference rival BCLUW on Tuesday and came away with a three-game sweep in front of their home crowd.
Grundy Center got 11 kills and 11 digs from Sam Meyers and 26 assists and nine digs from Northern Iowa-bound Heather Hook as the Spartans bested the Comets 25-12, 25-15, 25-16.
T-R PHOTO BY TROY HYDE
Grundy Center senior Heather Hook keeps the ball in play just in front of the net as BCLUW’s Kendall Scurr prepares for a return shot. Hook had 26 assists, five kills and nine digs as the top-ranked Spartans won in three games.
"We have a lot of new faces, so it is good to just get out and play games," Grundy Center coach Darwin Sents said. "You can't simulate anything until you play in games in front of fans against other teams."
The Spartans are now 4-0 on the season. In NICL West Division play they have won 52 straight sets and 20 consecutive matches. Grundy Center finished 42-2 last year and played in the Class 2A state semifinals the past two seasons.
Sophomore Riley Sents added a team-high 15 digs, two aces and four assists in the win, while sophomores Noel Saak and Stephanie Faust each finished with six kills.
The Spartans scored several points with dominating serves from a host of players. Grundy Center recorded 15 aces in the game, led by Saak's five aces and Hook's four. Sents, Meyers and sophomore Brittany VanSickle all had two aces.
"We knew it was going to be a tough game," BCLUW coach Kristen Garber said. "We talked about not giving away points and making them earn their points. We did well with that at times, but I thought our serve receive could have been better."
The Spartans jumped out to an early lead in Game 1 and took control for good following back-to-back aces by Hook. Four consecutive points later made it 12-5 and a Meyers kill eventually pushed the lead to 18-9. Meyers would have two more kills before the end of the game and Hook added an ace as the Spartans won easily.
Grundy Center got out to a 7-1 lead in the second game as Faust had back-to-back kills and Saak added three aces. Faust continued her strong play in the set with two more kills as the lead jumped to 11-4. Meyers scored back-to-back points later to make it 17-8. BCLUW got to within eight points before Grundy Center put the set away after a kill by Meyers and an ace from Sents.
"There are some things we need to work on," Darwin Sents said. "We need to be quicker back to the box and we need to be better in transition. Our serving was very good tonight though. We still have a ways to go, but it makes it fun when you can get easy points off the serve."
BCLUW's only lead of the night came early in Game 3. The Comets rallied from a 4-2 deficit and scored three straight points to grab their first lead. The final point of the run was scored by senior Jessica deNeui on an ace. deNeui sparked BCLUW off the bench in Game 3. She finished with two kills and two aces.
"Jessie did a nice job," Garber said. "She was consistent, and she did not make a lot of errors. She definitely gave us a lift."
The Comets' lead was short-lived though thanks to Meyers, who tied it with a kill and then gave Grundy Center the lead back with another kill. She then put the Spartans up for good during a long service run that featured two aces and a kill from the senior captain.
"If we had Riley Sents hitting it to Heather Hook and Hook setting it to Sam Meyers, we'd be in good shape," Darwin Sents said. "We know that doesn't always happen. But we do lean on all three of those players. They give us tremendous leadership."
BCLUW continued to fight, but Grundy Center was just too much. Three straight points gave the Spartans a 16-9 lead and two more aces from Riley Sents and Meyers pushed the advantage to 22-13. The final points of the match came after Hook tipped the ball to an open space for the win.
The Comets drop to 1-6 on the season. Senior Reeba Box and freshman Olivia Callaway each had four kills to lead the way, while junior Nicolette Simpson added a team-high seven assists. Junior Kendall Scurr had a team-high eight digs, and Callaway added seven. Scurr also had three kills, while Box finished with five digs.
Faust was 17-of-18 in serves for Grundy Center, while Hook was 14-of-16 and Riley Sents was 12-of-12. Scurr led BCLUW in serves at 7-of-8, and Simpson was 8-of-9. The Comets had only four aces in the loss.