Bobcats blow by Mohawks, 3-0
The last thing the Marshalltown volleyball team could afford was a lackluster performance during Homecoming week in preparation for Saturday’s Cedar Falls Invitational. The Bobcats have too high of hopes to let an uninspired showing prove costly prior to the postseason.
Not even Marshalltown’s less-than-best allowed Mason City to spoil the celebration.
The visiting Mohawks made too many errors to overtake MHS and the host Bobcats prevailed in straight sets in Tuesday’s CIML Iowa Conference match, winning 25-15, 25-14, 25-15 to take what momemtum they could into a busy week of being the utmost student-athletes.
Four members of Marshalltown’s varsity volleyball squad were voted to the Homecoming court (Emily Hass, Sarah Jacobs, Regan Mazour and McKenna Major) and Saturday’s dance will be preceded by a pivotal trip to the Cedar Falls Invitational. Among other potential opponents, the Bobcats will face Class 5A No. 1 Cedar Falls in hopes of making a compelling case for getting back into the rankings for playoff purposes.
“We’re very excited to play Saturday but we don’t like that the tournament’s on Homecoming, but we know we need to go do our best and try to get ranked again,” said Hass. “We want to play to win so we can get a good seeding for regionals.”
The Bobcats (9-5, 2-0) got what they needed out of the match with Mason City as far as the victory goes, but it took MHS a while to get into its groove. Marshalltown marched out to a 13-6 lead in the first set before a mini-run by the Mohawks (2-14, 0-2) prompted a timeout by head coach Chris Brees.
MHS responded with a four-point run served up by Ciara Feldman but buoyed by Mason City miscues.
“Against a team like Mason City, it’s about being consistent and putting the ball in play,” said Brees. “That’s why I was a little unhappy with some of the hitting errors we had because we didn’t force them to make plays and usually we’re really good at keeping the ball in play.”
Marshalltown managed to eliminate its swinging errors for the most part for the rest of the night, save for a sluggish start to the second set, and never was threatened by the Mohawks.
“We know it’s going to be a long week and we just wanted to have energy today so we could have energy going into Saturday because we have a very long day and a really hard schedule [on Saturday],” said Feldman, “especially because our heads won’t be all the way there but we want to try our hardest.
“I think most of the time we play better when we play good teams. Tonight we slowed down a little bit so we need to kick it up for Saturday. We need to take control on our side, which we didn’t do as much today.”
The Bobcats only committed eight swinging errors in contrast to accumulating 27 kills, but it was Mason City’s negative hitting percentage that Brees wanted his squad to pay attention to. The Mohawks finished the night with 16 kills and 24 swinging errors, four blocks and four blocking errors, six setting errors and five missed serves.
“We talked about it at the end of set one where this is the type of team that doesn’t give you energy, so it’s a lot of miscued balls coming back so it’s hard to create momentum,” said Brees. “I wasn’t even feeling it from the crowd tonight. Everything was lethargic.
“Homecoming week is a love-hate relationship. I love it for the kids but I also hate it because of our lack of focus, so I think it took us until the third game to get into a rhythm.”
Marshalltown’s offense stayed balanced throughout the contest, though not always by design. The Bobcats’ passing left a little to be desired, according to Brees, and sophomore setter Madi Finch was left to find any available attacker in position to take the sets as opposed to what play had been called.
In the end, Mazour led MHS with eight kills, Feldman finished with seven, and Molly Bach chipped in six. Hass had a trio of kills and Erica Johnson added two more, helping Finch rack up 22 assists in the straight-set win.
“I think Madi does a lot of stuff for us and she kind of goes under the radar,” Brees said. “She’s just a sophomore and we totally changed our offense this year and sped it up and she’s had to adjust so much and she has.”
Feldman and Mazour led the team with 13 digs apiece, Hass had 11 and Finch adeed seven. Bach led the defensive front with two blocks, and Marshalltown served 66-for-74 as a team with 12 aces. Feldman and Hass combined for seven aces, including five in the second set alone.
“I think that all of our heads are on Homecoming and it’s hard for us to focus on volleyball, especially when it’s a team we expect to beat,” said Hass. “I think we underestimated [Mason City], which is something we tend to do, and [coach Chris] Brees was also getting on us.
“Mason City was very scrappy so that was kind of challenging.”
Grace Tobin led the Mohawks with eight kills but was the only Mason City attacker with more than two.
The Bobcats go to Cedar Falls for a 9 a.m. start on Saturday, meeting Cedar Rapids Washington before taking on the top-ranked Tigers and then 4A No. Charles City.
“We’re going to have to be ready,” Brees said. “It’s a long week for the kids, and I’m happy for them because we have so many that are on the Homecoming court. It’s being a high school student and I want them to have fun, but we talked tonight after the match and we need to start beating these ranked teams again so when it comes to regional time we get a better seeding.”