TAMA - South Tama County coach Michelle Bradley was searching for a spark to ignite her team Tuesday.
While Bradley never saw her team collectively catch fire, Samantha Holtz provided more than enough fuel with 12 kills and eight digs to send STC past West Marshall, 25-15, 25-21, 25-17, in NICL West Division play.
Despite the sweep, Bradley left her players with a challenge following the match.
T-R PHOTO BY TYLER STRAND
South Tama County senior Paige Van Dyk (8) hits the ball over the net on a pass from Tori Appelgate (3) as West Marshall’s Jennifer Davis, right, rises up for a block attempt.
"I told the girls, 'What can you do to get things going? What can you do to excite and light a flame on the bench, on the court, in the crowd, something? You've got to get a spark going,'" said Bradley.
"I left them with that tonight and they're supposed to come back with some ideas tomorrow."
Receiving a boost from the service line, South Tama County (10-5, 4-0) rode a strong service run from Paige Van Dyk to tally nine unanswered points in game one. Following an ace from Alarie Craven, STC turned a 12-11 deficit into a 20-12 lead as a pair of West Marshall errors and a Van Dyk ace capped the flurry.
Van Dyk served up 6 aces on the night, converting 20-of-21 attempts. Holtz followed up a smash by Taylor Muhlstein with a back row kill to close the first set.
STC, playing its home debut of the season, seemed to have the energy going heading into the second set though they couldn't sustain it.
"We just needed to keep our energy up and run better plays to keep our energy up but it just didn't happen," said Holtz, who didn't lack for inspiration in front of the home crowd.
"I was just pumped that it was actually our first home game and I was excited to get out there and get our first home win."
A Holtz attack gave STC a 9-3 advantage early in the second game before West Marshall (6-15, 0-4) rallied behind a few STC miscues to claim an 11-10 edge.
Tori Appelgate's winner and another kill from Holtz highlighted a 7-1 push from the home team, though Morgan Hopper's attack and an STC error pulled the visitors within 17-16.
West Marshall never got closer than two the rest of the way as Van Dyk answered Brandy Wilkey's smash with one of her own to give STC a 2-0 lead in the match.
West Marshall won the first five points of the third game behind a Jennifer Davis kill and a Craven ace, though STC matched the run with a trio of aces from Van Dyk. West Marshall led again at 9-7 before three aces by Trisha Walz highlighted a 12-1 run for the home team and a 21-10 lead.
West Marshall pulled within 22-16, before Holtz capped the match with another smash.
Walz aided STC's attack with 10 kills and three aces, while Tori Appelgate added eight kills along with a pair of aces. Madison Baack distributed 22 assists and converted all 15 serves with an ace. STC, winners in eight of its last 10, finished 66-of-74 on serve with 12 aces.
Walz had 12 digs, while Belle Tyynismaa and Baack each came up with five.
"That's probably the best we've served," said Bradley, who also commended her team's tenacity through some brief struggles.
"Tonight was probably one of the best nights that I've seen the girls put the bad point behind them. For the longest time we would let teams roll five or six points on us because we couldn't get past that last point."
Craven paced West Marshall with 18 assists, five digs and a 13-of-13 serving performance with two aces. Wilkey connected on all 13 of her serves and had an ace, while Jennifer Davis recorded six kills and two blocks. Hopper, Gabby Reyerson and Wilkey each tallied five kills and Claire Underwood had five digs.
Both squads return to action Saturday. West Marshall heads to the Nevada Tournament - the host Cubs are ranked No. 6 in Class 3A - while STC holds its own invite.
West Marshall continues conference play against AGWSR on the road Tuesday, while STC travels to East Marshall that same night.
West Marshall and South Tama each faced ranked foes Saturday. West Marshall won the consolation bracket of the Waukee Invitational after losing to Class 5A No. 3 ranked Ankeny. STC posted a 2-2 mark at the West Delaware Tournament Saturday, falling to Class 4A No. 5 West Delaware and Class 3A No. 15 Independence.