Marshalltown Community College volleyball coach Chris Brees doesn't usually like playing five-set matches.
Mainly because anything can happen and a small window of momentum can carry a team to victory.
But after his Tiger squad dropped two five-set wins in their season-opening tournament in Nebraska, Brees wanted to see if his team has what it takes to pull one out.
T-R PHOTO BY TROY HYDE
Marshalltown Community College sophomore libero Ashley Salgado had 77 digs in the Tigers’ five-set victory over the Grand View University junior varsity Thursday at the Student Activity Center. The home win pushed MCC above .500 on the season.
He can check that box off after Thursday because the Tigers needed all five sets to dispose of the Grand View University junior varsity in front of a large crowd at the Student Activity Center. MCC won the competitive match 25-27, 26-24, 25-21, 25-27, 15-8.
"I didn't want it to go to five but I wanted to go to five because we needed to get a five-set win," said Brees. "We lost two previously that were ours to win. That is not a typical JV school either. This was good competition tonight."
The victory pushes the Tigers above .500 for the first time since starting the 2011 season 1-0. The last winning season for Marshalltown came in 2008.
Unlike a season ago, these Tigers have options offensively as four players had at least eight kills and freshman setter Sam Hinrichs finished with four kills and 47 assists.
But the difference in Thursday's win was the Tiger defense, led by 77 digs from sophomore libero Ashley Salgado.
"I just try to leave it out on the floor," said Salgado, who credits playing basketball at MCC as to how she has enough energy to get to so many balls. "My team is relying on me to get the ball so I don't even allow myself to think that I can't get to it. I have to get it up in the air."
The first four games were back-and-forth as neither team grabbed a lead of more than five points.
The Tigers put the Vikings away with a dominant fifth set. Behind strong play at the net from freshmen Meghann Cole and Reeba Box, MCC jumped out to an 11-4 lead and two kills from Box sent the Tigers to the home victory. Box finished with 13 kills on the night.
"Reeba hit it hard out of the gates and then went away for a few games," Brees said. "Meghann was our big gun over the weekend. Ashley and Miranda were the two that really stepped up tonight. The depth we have really helped us."
Marshalltown had leads in every game but the Vikings battled back to make things interesting.
The Tigers led the opener 17-12 following a kill from sophomore Katelyn Yauslin. But Grand View chipped away at its deficit and eventually tied it at 20-all.
MCC went back on top 23-21, but the Vikings forced ties at 23, 24 and 25 before closing out the win with the final two points.
"We have to work better at the easy communication plays," Brees said. "We get lazy at times and that is when I'm most frustrated. We gave the momentum back to them way too much. We could have gone on runs in all those games but stupid mistakes often slowed us down."
Game two featured five ties and neither team led by more than MCC's 10-6 lead early. Marshalltown native Miranda Smith had a block and a kill on consecutive points to give the Tigers a four-point advantage, but Grand View once again battled back.
Smith gave the Tigers a 20-16 lead with another kill, but the Vikings evened up the game at 20-all with four straight points. MCC had a three-point lead and two two-point leads down the stretch but Grand View forced another tie at 24-all before a Cole kill and four-touch violation on the Vikings secured the victory for MCC.
Marshalltown jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the third game but that was the largest advantage until it pulled away with three straight points to go up 20-16. Smith had back-to-back kills during that stretch and then a kill and a block by Smith a point later made it 22-17.
The Vikings outscored MCC down the stretch, but the Tigers still prevailed, taking a two games to one lead with a 25-21 win. Smith finished with a team-high 16 kills in the victory.
"The way I look at it is I can't get kills unless Sam gets a good set and she can't get a good set unless the back row gets a good pass," Smith said. "It is not about me. This is a team game and we all played well tonight."
Grand View forced a fifth and final set in game four as it rallied from a 10-7 deficit to take a 16-13 lead. MCC forced ties at 18, 19, 20, 21, 24 and 25 before Grand View claimed the final two points to win 27-25.
Box came out swinging in the final game, scoring the first three MCC points with kills. Smith, Yauslin and Cole also played big roles in the final game. The Tigers went up 11-4 thanks to back-to-back blocks by Cole and then the lead got to 13-5 after an Alyssa Whitmore kill and a Grand View error. The Vikings fought their way back but fell short after Box finalized the victory with kills at points 14 and 15.
"We needed to prove to ourself that we could push through a long match and get over the hump," said Salgado. "We have that ability now and showed it tonight."
Salgado had 77 digs, two aces and was 19-for-19 in serving. Smith added five blocks to go along with her 16 kills, while Box finished with 13 kills and 42 digs. Cole chipped in 11 kills and five blocks and Yauslin recorded eight kills off the bench. Whitmore contributed 40 digs, was 23-of-24 in serving and served up three aces.
One of Brees' goals coming into this season was to get more fans in the stands. The crowd Thursday was larger than any crowd the Tigers saw during the entire 2012 season.
"It was exciting to see some people in the stands tonight," Brees said. "That was my goal. I wanted to fill the seats. We want people to know that MCC athletics are south of Highway 30. This was a fun match to watch no matter what team you were rooting for."
Brees served as an assistant coach at Grand View from 2003-2005. ... Salgado now has 211 digs on the season. She averages 12.41 digs per set, which currently ranks first among NJCAA Division II participants. ... The Tigers do not play again until they travel to the Central Nebraska Invitational in Columbus, Neb., on Sept. 6-7. ... The game scheduled for Wednesday against Mount Mercy has been cancelled and taken off the schedule entirely. ... Cole now leads the Tigers with 35 kills on the season. Hinrichs has a team-high 110 assists and Miranda Smith has 11 blocks to lead the way. ... The Tigers were 24-21 in 2008 and 29-22 in 2007. They were 10-36 in 2009, 16-27 in 2010, 15-28 in 2011 and 14-25 in 2012.