Cadets chase down West Marshall in 5

Trojans fall to No. 12 Iowa Falls-Alden

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON • West Marshall junior outside hitter Catherine Sjoblom, center, swings against Iowa Falls-Alden blockers Grace Renaud, left, and Hannah Redmond, right, during Tuesday’s Class 3A Region 6 semifinal in Iowa Falls.

IOWA FALLS — When the West Marshall volleyball team took the court on Tuesday for their Class 3A Region 6 semifinal match, they faced both No. 12 Iowa Falls-Alden and a crowd that would rival any college team in terms of sheer involvement.

As was to be expected from two teams with military-themed mascots, the Trojans and Cadets were locked in an absolute battle to determine who moved on to the regional finals.

Though they owned a 2-0 set advantage and seemed to be on their way to the state-qualifying match, the Trojans eventually lost in five sets to IFA, 20-25, 25-27, 28-26, 25-22, 15-11.

After the match, West Marshall head coach Denise Coberley said her girls just couldn’t muster up enough to win their first five-set match of the season.

“In five game matches we struggle. You can condition all you want but when you’re jumping and the momentum and the swings, it’s tough,” Coberley said. “They are a phenomenal team, they just keep plugging away. They don’t do a lot of things very fancy, but they don’t make mistakes, they just keep plugging away and that’s what they did. They just hung around and we kind of let them hang around and they came out on top.”

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON • West Marshall’s Addison Moore (4) prepares to attack the set from Trojan senior Grace Porter (8) during Tuesday’s Class 3A Region 6 semifinal against No. 12 Iowa Falls-Alden in Iowa Falls. The host Cadets won in five sets, 20-25, 25-27, 28-26, 25-22, 15-11.

As Coberley alluded to, the Trojans had chances to win in the third and fourth sets, but they couldn’t take advantage. In the third, West Marshall had a 23-20 advantage but let the Cadets slip back in, and in the fourth they were up 18-14 and 20-18, but once again IFA made enough plays to bounce back.

“We were tired and we were starting to let our foot off the gas,” Coberley said. “That’s one of those things you learn, Iowa Falls has consistently been a really good volleyball program and we are really just starting to build it. If you get up on a good team, you have to stay up, you have to put your foot on the gas pedal and you can not let up because good teams will find a way to get back in and that’s what they did.”

Despite the loss, there were many performances from the West Marshall girls that they should be proud of. Senior Lexi Keigan led the way with 21 kills in the match, while also recording 15 digs defensively and two solo blocks. Junior Catherine Sjoblom was also fantastic, coming in with 18 kills, 15 digs and two assists on blocks.

Coberley said the plan all night was to get her two outside hitters going, and they were both a huge reason why West Marshall almost pulled off the upset on the road.

“This is one of those games where we tried to get them the ball quite a bit, tried to get them the ball as quick as we could,” Coberley said. “They came through, they both had really good games and both had their fair share of blocks. They went backside quite a bit, which is something we tend to do a lot, and that fills in to the fatigue piece when your outsides have to do a lot of blocking.”

While the outside hitters were doing what they’ve done all season, it was the middle hitters who really did some unexpected damage against the Cadets. Sophomore Teresa Disney had 12 kills and two solo blocks, while junior Addison Moore had nine kills, a solo block and an assist.

Coberley said her two middles were great on Tuesday night and they definitely did their jobs well.

“Both our middles are really good at moving, and we give them an assignment,” she said. “We say ‘OK, you’re going to stay with the middle,’ and they do a really good job of shade blocking and shading towards that side to try to take that hitter out as much as we can. Also just hanging at the net, both of them had several moments where they could have given up on a ball and they just hung a little bit longer and rebounded a little bit quicker and got the ball down, and that’s hard to block and hard to defend.”

With the loss, the 2017 campaign comes to a close for the Trojans in a manner that will have both the athletes and coaches looking back at missed opportunities. Despite the disappointment, it was still a successful season for West Marshall volleyball, and Coberley said that had all to do with her senior class.

“This group of seniors came in and their freshman season was difficult, and even their sophomore year was hard,” Coberley said. “Those girls bought in 100 percent, they don’t always like the hard practices but they come in and they do it. They buckle in, they focus in and they have led the way for these underclassmen that this is what we do in practice every day, this is how we expect to be in a game every time.”

Coberley said it will be extremely difficult to say goodbye to her seniors, as they have essentially become family over the last four years, but she couldn’t help but be excited about the future of the program given the return of girls like Sjoblom, Disney, Moore and sophomore setter Hana Hohnstein.

“I told them in the locker room that what they do next year won’t just be for them as a team, they owe those seniors that because they built this program,” Coberley said. “We got Renae (Schaper) in there some and she played very well, she will be a big asset to us next year, especially on that backside and blocking. Hana coming back as a setter and Morgan (Cripps) has a good eye for the ball even if we didn’t play her as much.”

“We have Teresa and Addie coming back in the middle who have obviously played with Hana, and that chemistry between the middle and setter is so important, especially if you are going to run quicks and run those slides. There is also a lot of chemistry between Catherine and Hana since they’ve played a lot together.”