The Bobcats weren't playing in familiar surroundings. But they looked right at home Tuesday against seventh-ranked Waukee.
Playing their home opener at Marshalltown Community College because of continued renovations to the Roundhouse, the Marshalltown volleyball team cruised to an easy win over the Class 5A No. 7 Warriors at the Student Activity Center.
The Bobcats recorded the sweep, winning 25-18, 25-23, 25-20 in front of an energetic crowd. The win kept Marshalltown (3-0) undefeated and the Bobcats are yet to lose a set this season.
T-R PHOTO BY TROY HYDE
Marshalltown junior Leiah Paustian (7) sets in front of teammates Haley Vajgrt, back, and Lexi Gimbel, right, during the Bobcats’ three-set win over No. 7 Waukee on Tuesday at the Student Activity Center. Paustian finished a team-high 28 assists and also had three aces and six digs as the Bobcats are 3-0 for the first time since 2009.
T-R PHOTO BY TROY HYDE
T-R PHOTO BY TROY HYDE
"The intensity and energy level of this team has far surpassed the last couple of teams. The girls are just in it to win it," said Marshalltown coach Terri Westendorf. "They come onto the court and they want to play hard. It shows in practice, and then they reap the benefits on the game floor. It has to start in practice and the girls have committed themselves to that, and I couldn't be prouder that they are bringing it all around."
The Bobcats rarely trailed but got down 2-0 in the opening game before a pair of Leiah Paustian aces and a long service run put the home team in front for good.
Junior Rachel Whaley added back-to-back points with a kill and an ace to put MHS up 10-4 and it cruised from there.
"We have developed some great relationships and the intensity in practice has been better this year," said Paustian, who finished with 28 assists, six digs and three aces in the win. "Having options to set to just opens the block up for Rachel to be a powerhouse. It's been a fun season so far. I am proud of how everyone has played."
The momentum for the Bobcats continued in game two. Waukee rallied from an early hole to tie the set at 4-all, but Whaley went back to work.
She gave her squad the lead for good with a kill and then created some separation with four aces. The final ace gave the Bobcats a 10-4 lead and the advantage grew to 12-4 following a Regan Mazour kill and another service ace from Whaley.
Whaley finished with a team-high 14 kills, eight aces and nine digs, while the freshman Mazour added nine kills and seven digs.
"(Rachel) put down some extremely tough hits. She takes a lot of swings and to put down the amount of kills as tired as she has to be is impressive," said Westendorf. "I can't say enough about how hard she is working and how hard she is playing."
The Bobcat lead wasn't threatened until late in the match. The Warriors trailed by 23-19 but closed to within two twice and trimmed the lead to 24-23 before Whaley kept the consecutive sets win streak alive following another kill.
"Rachel was really good on the outside, but Haley (Vajgrt) came in and put some great kills down and Jasmine (Scott) had some great blocks," said Westendorf. "It was a total team effort. They are winning these games as a group and as a team."
Marshalltown never trailed in the third and final game, but it didn't pull away until a five-point surge made it 17-12. The run included four Warrior errors and a Mazour ace.
"I liked the way the girls came off the floor. They didn't come off the floor frustrated, they came off determined," said Westendorf after calling timeout with the game tied at 12. "That is what you want to look for. They knew they would go back onto the floor and get it done. That was great to see."
Waukee (2-3) couldn't get its deficit closer than four the rest of the way as the Warriors dropped their third consecutive match.
The Bobcats were 63-of-67 behind the service line against Waukee on Tuesday and finished with 14 aces.
"We served really tough and kept them out of their offense," said Westendorf.
Whaley came into the match with a team-best six aces in the team's first two wins but more than doubled that against the Warriors. She was 20-of-22 from behind the service line.
Paustian and senior Ashley Harris also had three and two aces, respectively. Paustian was 14-of-15 in serves, and Harris was 6-for-6. Morgan Finch (8-for-8) and Mazour (8-for-8) also had perfect nights from behind the service line.
Vajgrt, a junior, had nine kills and four blocks, while Scott, a senior, also collected four blocks.
The last time Marshalltown began a season 3-0 was 2009 when the Bobcats started 4-0. They also won three of their first four matches in 2008. They began last year with four straight losses before finishing 14-22.
Waukee is preseason ranked No. 7 despite finishing 19-20 in 2013. The Warriors began the season with sweeps of Ames and Council Bluffs Lewis Central in Saturday's tournament at Ames but then lost 2-1 to Class 3A No. 6 Nevada and 2-0 to South Hamilton. Whaley now has 41 kills and 23 digs on the season, while Mazour collected her 31st kill and 16th dig on Tuesday. Paustian is up to 96 assists. The Bobcats will take their 3-0 record into their own Pat Apgar Tournament on Saturday. Action begins at MCC at 9 a.m.