It was going to take a special effort by the Marshalltown volleyball team to upset Class 5A No. 5 Urbandale on Tuesday night.
And while the Bobcats played without fear at the net and came up with some big defensive plays in the back row, it still wasn't enough against the J-Hawks at the Roundhouse.
First-team all-state hitter Kyla Inderski finished with 11 kills and two aces, Emilee Erichsen chipped in 11 kills and Urbandale exited town with a 25-17, 25-12, 25-20 win over the Bobcats in a Central Iowa Conference inter-division contest.
T-R PHOTO BY TROY HYDE
Marshalltown junior Leiah Paustian passes the ball to a teammate during the Bobcats’ three-game loss to Class 5A No. 5 Urbandale on Tuesday at the Roundhouse. Paustian had five kills, six digs and was 11-for-11 in serving.
T-R PHOTO BY TROY HYDE
Marshalltown senior Amanda Hughes tries to get the ball over two blockers from Urbandale during the Bobcats’ loss at the Roundhouse on Tuesday. The fifth-ranked J-Hawks won in straight sets.
T-R PHOTO BY TROY HYDE
"We played well in the third game and it was a nice effort overall," Marshalltown coach Terri Westendorf said. "The kids played well together and were going in the same direction tonight.
"We had our moments and attacked the ball extremely well at times, but we couldn't put it together as many times as they could. The effort was definitely there though."
It was the fifth straight win for the J-Hawks, who improved to 21-3 on the season. Marshalltown, losers in three of its last four matches, dropped to 8-14.
The J-Hawks used several small runs in each game to close out Marshalltown.
The opener was tied at 6-all following kills from Inderski and Erichsen. The run was extended to six though as the J-Hawks grabbed a 10-6 lead on another kill from Erichsen.
The Bobcats closed to within two a couple of times but another run by Urbandale gave the visitors an 18-11 advantage. Inderski started and ended the run with a pair of kills.
The Bobcats didn't go away quietly though. A pair of blocks from Samantha Hughes kept the game within reach for MHS but back-to-back kills by Inderski, an MHS error and an ace from Inderski gave the J-Hawks game point. MHS turned away the first game point but Erichsen ended the frame with another blast.
"They are the real deal for sure," Westendorf said of Inderski and Erichsen. "They can hit the ball anywhere. You can't just cover an angle or a line. But the girls did a really nice job of putting together some nice defensive stands. We had some great digs in the back row and some nice blocks in the front row. We were not scared to throw our hands up."
In Westendorf's words, the Bobcats "sank" in game two.
After trailing 8-6 following a kill from Leiah Paustian, the Bobcats gave away five straight points - two by way of Mackenzie Brees and three off hitting errors. Inderski then made it 15-8 with another kill. She then nearly served out the game with six straight points, highlighted by back-to-back kills from Erichsen and two net violations from the Bobcats.
It was 22-9 at the end of the service run and the J-Hawks went on to win by 13.
The Bobcats were the most competitive in game three. Paustian kept them in the frame early with three kills and her fourth kill of the frame made it 12-all.
"They came out on fire in game three," Westendorf said. "In order to stay off of defense, you have to play offense. We play very good defense, but at some point, you have to keep them on defense. We attacked the best in game three. We need to go from defense and then attack the ball with some confidence. When we do that more consistently, we'll find ourselves on the winning side more often."
The game was tied five more times before Urbandale used a small run to go up 20-17. That forced a Bobcat timeout, but MHS never got closer than two the rest of the way before Erichsen, Brees, Inderski and Celie Kohls all came up with kills down the stretch to close out the victory.
Rachel Whaley finished with 13 kills, five digs and was 6-for-6 in serving to lead the Bobcats, while Paustian added five kills, six digs and 11-for-11 in serving. Hughes ended up with five kills and a team-high three blocks, Sharissa Stansberry collected a team-best 10 digs and Lindsey Ricken and Amanda Hughes each had 11 assists.
Ricken also had five digs, Emily Rebik contributed four kills and Haley Vajgrt recorded a team-high three blocks. ... Urbandale's three losses came against Class 5A No. 2 Ankeny, Class 5A No. 9 Cedar Falls and Class 4A No. 6 Charles City. ... Inderski was a first-team hitter last year as a junior and was named to the Class 4A third team as a sophomore. She entered the game with 223 kills, which ranked fifth in 5A. ... Erichsen was a third-team all-stater in 2011. She came into Tuesday's match with 104 kills. ... Whaley leads the Bobcats with 141 kills and 111 digs and Paustian has 110 and 95, respectively. Ricken has a team-high 179 assists, Stansberry leads the way with 140 digs and Rebik currently holds down the team lead in blocks with 26.