Ashley Salgado relishes in the big moments. She wants the ball in her hands in the clutch spots. And she usually finds a way to come through.
The MCC sophomore libero had that opportunity Wednesday night at the Student Activity Center.
With the Tigers down a point in the fifth set, Salgado served up an ace to tie it and then rolled off three more points to give her team some breathing room.
T-R PHOTO BY TROY HYDE
Marshalltown Community College freshman setter Sam Hinrichs celebrates the Tigers’ five-game volleyball win over Iowa Central at the Student Activity Center on Wednesday night. Hinrichs had 43 assists and two aces in the Tigers’ first win over the Tritons since 2009.
That was enough to help propel the Tigers to a big conference victory as the Marshalltown Community College volleyball team defeated rival Iowa Central 25-18, 26-24, 20-25, 15-25, 15-10 during Iowa Community College Athletic Conference play.
"I like that feeling. I like the pressure being on me," Salgado said. "I have been raised that way. I feel confident enough in my serve and confident enough in my teammates that they are going to keep me back there."
Salgado, the nation's leader in digs, finished with 25 digs, two aces and was 20-of-21 from behind the service line in the win. It was the Tigers' first victory over ICCAC foe Iowa Central since 2009.
"This win puts things in perspective for us," Marshalltown Community College coach Chris Brees said. "Iowa Central beat Southeastern, who is ranked 12th. They beat Northeast, who beat us twice this year. There are some things we can still do in this conference. It should give us some confidence moving forward. This is a big win."
Like so many times this season, the victory didn't come easy for the Tigers. MCC jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the match but failed to close out the Tritons until the fifth set.
Brees said his Tigers are built for five-set matches but hopes a win over a quality opponent like Iowa Central will finally get his squad over the hump.
"This fixes a lot. A lot of our games are going to be five-setters," Brees said. "But it doesn't matter what the score was tonight. Nobody cares that we won in five. All they care about is that we won. And the players in our locker room have never been as excited in my two years as they are tonight."
The Tigers were aggressive at the net in the first two games and that led to an early advantage on the scoreboard.
With the opening set tied at 8-all, the Tigers (12-12, 3-3) rolled off six of the next seven points to take control. Reeba Box, Meghann Cole and Sam Hinrichs then recorded back-to-back-to-back kills to push the lead to 17-10 and the Tigers coasted from there to take an early lead.
"We were frustrating them with our tough back-row defense," Brees said. "They ended up hitting balls out because we would hit it back to them and they may not have been expecting that. We have to win the long rallies and are starting to do that. We are slowly starting to mature, and it's the right time of year to do that."
Cole started off game two with back-to-back kills. Neither team grabbed much of an advantage early on though. Iowa Central eventually led 19-15 after a kill from Kennedi Simon. The Tritons (12-11, 4-2) held leads of 23-19 and 24-21 but could not close out the victory.
Box cut the Tigers' deficit to two with a kill and then four straight hitting errors by Iowa Central pushed MCC to the improbable win.
"The first two games we played like we know we can play," Salgado said. "We haven't been able to show that in front of everyone consistently yet. We are working on it and have the potential to beat any team we play. I truly believe that and we showed it tonight."
Neither squad grabbed a decisive lead in the third game until the Tritons pulled away late.
Miranda Smith's kill tied the set at 16-all, but Iowa Central scored eight of the next nine points to get back in the match. Nicolette Lavulo came off the bench to spark the Tritons. Her back-to-back kills made it 24-19 and Sarah Groff's blast eventually sent the match to a fourth game.
The Tritons kept the momentum on their side by scoring the first four points of game four. The Tigers never really recovered after that as Lavulo and Jayla French continued their dominance in the middle.
The final set went back-and-forth. There were seven ties in the first 16 points until kills from Cole and Box and two errors from Iowa Central gave the Tigers a 12-8 lead. Hinrichs made it 13-9 with another kill and Cole finished off the victory with back-to-back blasts.
Cole, a freshman from West Des Moines, finished with a team-high 17 kills despite playing under the weather.
Hinrichs added 43 assists, two aces and was 21-for-21 from behind the service line. The freshman setter from Ankeny took advantage of Iowa Central's sagging defense with timely tips to the open spaces in the corners.
"This win is really big for us," Hinrichs said. "We came together as a team tonight. In the middle of the rally, tip shots put everyone off play. I know that the right and left sides usually sink into the middle of the court, and it is usually a good time to do it."
Brees said the Tigers were most successful when they attacked the corners on both sides of the court. They just played to that strategy much better in games one, two and five than in games three and four.
"Our goal was to go deep corners. That got them out of system," Brees said. "We were just going safe ball, safe ball, safe ball, in the third and fourth games. We weren't getting a solid block then too.
"In game five, we said we need to serve aggressive, and we needed to hit the ball long and we did that. Their middles did not hurt us that last game."
Smith finished with 13 kills in the win, while Box added eight kills, three blocks and two aces. Yauslin also had eight kills and Alyssa Whitmore collected 13 digs.
The Tigers have now won four of their last six matches, while Iowa Central has dropped four of six. ... MCC's last win against Iowa Central also went five games back in 2009. ... Hinrichs came into the match with 640 assists, which ranked fourth in the ICCAC. ... Smith now has 196 kills on the season, while Cole has 195. Yauslin's 190 kills ranks third on the squad. ... Salgado moved up over 600 digs on the season Wednesday. ... MCC's match with Iowa Central on Wednesday begins a stretch of five matches in four days. The Tigers travel to Central College today to face the Dutch's junior varsity at 4 p.m. as well as AIB at 6 p.m.. They play the Central junior varsity again at 11 a.m. Saturday at NIACC's tournament. The opener of the NIACC Tournament will be against Dakota County at 9 a.m.