The Iowa Lakes volleyball team had trouble figuring out the serve of Marshalltown sophomore libero Ashley Salgado all night long.
But when the Lakers needed to keep the ball in play most, they came through with a clutch performance.
Salgado finished with 11 aces on the night and went at least four serves deep each time she stepped behind the line in the first four games. But in game five, the Lakers held her to one serve with the game tied at 11 and rolled off the next four points to clinch the win, coming from behind to beat the Tigers 14-25, 25-23, 14-25, 25-21, 15-12 at the Student Activity Center on Wednesday night in an Iowa Community College Athletic Conference matchup.
T-R PHOTO BY TROY HYDE
Marshalltown freshman hitter Meghann Cole taps the ball over the net Thursday during the Tigers’ home match with Iowa Community College Athletic Conference rival Iowa Lakes at the Student Activity Center. Marshalltown led two games to one before losing in five sets.
"Both teams gave each other opportunities to win this match, and I don't think either coach will tell you that either of us played exceptionally well," said Iowa Lakes coach Scott Tschetter. "Fortunately, they gave us more points in that fifth set.
"We had watched video all week on (Salgado's) serve. We knew she was tough. I thought we did better with her than I anticipated. That was a huge play for us. We handled the pass and did the job."
Marshalltown Community College coach Chris Brees, on the other hand, was not happy with his team's play. He felt like his team gave away an ICCAC victory.
"This one definitely got away from us," Brees said. "We should have beaten this team in three games."
The Tigers, who have now lost five straight, cruised to victories in games one and three but struggled to put away points in the other three, which continues to frustrate Brees and the MCC coaching staff.
"We are not mature right now. We are lacking focus between games," Brees said. "We act like we already won the match after we win a game. We have a very lack of focus starting the next game. That is why we have gone to five games four or five times this season."
Salgado came into the match leading the nation in digs. She finished with 58 in the match and added the 11 aces and was 36-of-37 from behind the service line.
But it was not the defense or serving that did in the Tigers on Wednesday. It was the lack of consistency at the net that allowed Iowa Lakes (2-1, 2-10) to stay in the match and eventually win it.
"We can't be No. 2 in the nation in digs and not putting balls away offensively," Brees said. "We knew they were going to make hitting errors tonight. We wanted to put the ball away aggressively. But we did not do that when we were behind. We played it too safe in those spots.
"If you get 11 aces by one player, you should be able to finish off the win."
After a slow start, the Tigers pulled away in game one behind the serve of Salgado. The sophomore libero began serving with her team up 12-11 but extended the lead to 21-12 before missing her only serve of the night. Those 10 straight points included three Salgado aces and back-to-back kills by sophomore Katelyn Yauslin. Yauslin added two more kills before the game was complete and finished with nine kills and three blocks in the five-match loss.
The Tigers fell behind 3-0 in the second game and trailed by as much as seven points at one point. Trailing 16-10, Salgado once again rallied the Tigers with her serve. Following another kill from Yauslin, Salgado served up consecutive aces to close the gap and then two straight aces a second time evened the game at 16-all.
The Lakers then rolled off five straight points to go back up five. Setter Sam Hinrichs recorded consecutive kills and a block to get the Tigers within 22-21, but a service error, a net violation and a kill from Jordan Going knotted the match at 1 game apiece.
"We can't coach intensity, we can only coach what we know," Brees said. "It is up to them after that."
Another dominant effort in game three put the Tigers back in front. They turned a narrow 11-10 game into a 25-14 victory thanks to strong play at the net by Hinrichs and freshman hitter Miranda Smith. The Lakers also helped out with several miscues.
Iowa Lakes didn't go away quietly in game four though. The Lakers rallied from an early deficit to tie it at 5-all and then pushed past the Tigers following a pair of kills by Going and Paitton Heltenberg and several hitting miscues from MCC (3-7, 1-1). The Lakers led 13-7 at one point before another strong service run by Salgado once again made things interesting.
Salgado began her service run with the Tigers trailing 15-10 but turned the Laker lead into an enventual Tiger advantage after another ace and eight straight serves. Yauslin also had a pair of kills during the run that ended with the Tigers leading 18-15.
The home team couldn't keep the momentum from Salgado's serve though. Iowa Lakes, on the other hand, got a big performance from Going to get back into the game. Her first kill late in the match made it 18-16 and then back-to-back kills later trimmed the Laker deficit to 20-19.
After a kill from Smith gave the Tigers another two-point lead, Going evened the score at 21-all with a kill and an ace.
The Lakers eventually scored the game's final six points to win 25-21. Heltenberg finished off the game four win with three straight kills.
"Sometimes they play to not make a mistake," Brees said of his hitters. "They don't want us to remember them making mistakes. The only thing I remember is when we aren't going hard or playing with intensity."
The fifth and final game saw ties at 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12. Salgado gave the Lakers one more look at her serve with the game tied at 11, but Iowa Lakes was up to the challenge this time, scoring the go-ahead point on the Tiger sophomore's first attempt.
Yauslin snuck in a kill to tie it back up at 12, but the Lakers scored the final three points to claim the road victory.
"She gave us long runs in each of the first four games," Brees said of Salgado's serve. "We can't expect her to make a run every single time. I can't ask Ashley to do any more than she is already doing."
Sophomore defensive specialist Alyssa Whitmore finished with 24 digs, including some game-savers in the fourth game.
"She came up with some huge digs in game four and I thought that would help us get over the hump," Brees said. "But we couldn't get enough from our offense."
Hinrichs finished with 28 assists, Reeba Box had 22 digs and Smith tallied a game-high 10 kills and five blocks in the loss. Going had 17 kills to lead Iowa Lakes.
The game was originally scheduled to be played at Iowa Lakes but a scheduling mishap changed the location to Marshalltown. ... Iowa Lakes' team van got a flat tire on the way to the match, pushing the start time back to 7:30 p.m. ... The Lakers won the match despite using only nine players. "I have been to the national tournament with seven players before," Tschetter said. "How many of them actually play? By this time, they should be in good enough shape to go hard."