It’s a breeze

Marshalltown volleyball sweeps Fort Dodge in CIML Iowa Conference opener

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON • Marshalltown senior Molly Bach (9) shoots a spike toward Fort Dodge’s Loghen Schnetzer (18) and Brooke Erickson (7) during the Bobcats’ three-set sweep of the Dodgers.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON • Marshalltown senior Molly Bach (9) shoots a spike toward Fort Dodge’s Loghen Schnetzer (18) and Brooke Erickson (7) during the Bobcats’ three-set sweep of the Dodgers.

Home court advantage is something the Class 5A No. 15 Marshalltown volleyball team has benefitted from all season heading into Tuesday’s matchup with Fort Dodge, and that advantage didn’t disappear as the Bobcats rolled to yet another three-set sweep at home, taking down the Dodgers, 25-12, 25-20, 25-17.

With the win, Marshalltown moves to 5-1 at home this season and improves to 1-0 in CIML Iowa Conference play. Bobcats head coach Chris Brees said he liked how his girls started off the match, but he thought they shot themselves in the foot a few too many times in the second set to make it closer than it needed to be.

“I was happy with how we stepped out in game one,” Brees said after the win. “Game two, we handed them several points that they didn’t have to work hard for with missed serves and giving free balls when their big middle was in the front row. Obviously she could outreach us in that battle, so that was a little frustrating because every time we made a run we gave them a free ball or missed a serve, but we collected ourselves and got through that and played really well in game three too.”

In that second set, when the Dodgers (1-11, 0-1) pulled the margin within two points — the closest it had been all night — senior Molly Bach made a couple of nice plays at the net to swing the momentum back to the Bobcats (8-5, 1-0) and solidify the set victory.

Bach finished the night second in kills with a career-high nine put downs, and she said her effectiveness at the net was due to her listening to what her coaches have been preaching in practice.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON • Marshalltown senior Ciara Feldman (7) splits the Fort Dodge defenders Brooklyn Rowden (6) and Josie Shirbroun (11) during the Bobcats’ CIML Iowa Conference opening win over the Dodgers at home Tuesday.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON • Marshalltown senior Ciara Feldman (7) splits the Fort Dodge defenders Brooklyn Rowden (6) and Josie Shirbroun (11) during the Bobcats’ CIML Iowa Conference opening win over the Dodgers at home Tuesday.

“I was hitting my spots that the coaches have been telling me to hit,” Bach said. “The last couple of games I have been hitting spots I’m not supposed to, and also not having the middle blocked for me today was a good thing, so I got to go up and just smash the ball.”

Senior Regan Mazour continued her great season with a team-high 14 kills on the night, and while a lot of Bach’s and Mazour’s kills were emphatic spikes, the Bobcats as a whole brought a good amount of finesse to the match too by tipping the ball past the Dodgers’ defense.

“It’s mostly about just being skillful and being able to just tip it to the middle,” Bach said of the strategy. “We call that area Utah — because no one goes to Utah — and we just do little tricks to get them out of play.”

Marshalltown once again showed a lot of knowledge on the court in the win, seemingly knowing what Fort Dodge was going to do even before the Dodgers knew their plan. Brees said that is a testament to the time his girls spend in the film room breaking down games with him and working on their strategies in practice.

“We have been talking about them for two weeks now, we had the scouting report on them and what we were going to do against them,” Brees said. “We were very comfortable because we knew what was going to happen and there wasn’t a surprise. It was a good, confident win because we knew what was going to go on.”

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON

Another calling card of Bobcats volleyball in 2017 has been solid defensive play, and that continued against Fort Dodge with the team combining for 56 digs and four blocks in the match, led by Mazour with 17 digs and sophomore Madison Finch’s two assists on blocks.

“We were blocking a lot of balls back, I think there are a lot of balls that teams are used to getting down on other opponents that we get up and put another ball in play,” Brees said. “That’s where it frustrates them, especially today with Fort Dodge’s big middle, she is used to just putting the ball down but we were ready for where she wanted to hit and put the ball back.”

With such a senior-heavy team this season, the Bobcats are thrilled to start off on such a hot streak in front of their home fans — who raised quite a commotion on the night — and Bach said she and the team feel great when they step onto the court at the Roundhouse.

“My past couple years, when I was a sophomore we were doing really well but last year was kind of a buildup year and now I feel like we have kind of gotten to our peak now and we are really improving,” she said. “Having all the people here to watch really helps.”

Marshalltown has a lengthy break before they face off with Mason City next Tuesday, and Brees said he is happy to have that much time to prepare for the next opponent, considering he knows what his girls can do when given time to work on a game plan.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON

“Now when we look toward Mason City, our thing is not giving them the points and making them earn the points,” he said. “It’s homecoming week so that always brings its own challenges. We are excited for that atmosphere, we are trying to get more fans out here and we are doing a future bobcat night, so anyone who comes in with a uniform on and a paying parent gets in free.”