Reivers roll over MCC in 3

Tiger volleyball team drops conference opener to No. 2 Iowa Western

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON - Marshalltown Community College middle hitter Chiara Mottola (8) skies for an attack against Iowa Western defender Hina Pua’a, right, during the Tigers’ three-set loss to the NJCAA No. 2 Reivers on Wednesday.

In the last seven years of competition the Marshalltown Community College volleyball team has yet to beat Iowa Western, and that fact didn’t change on Wednesday night.

The NJCAA Division I No. 2 Reivers came into Marshalltown for the Tigers’ first Iowa Community College Athletic Conference Division I game of the season, and when the final point had been scored Western walked out of the Student Activity Center with a win in straight sets, 25-19, 25-13, 25-15.

MCC head coach Justin Hoskins said his girls came out strong in the first set, even leading 15-13 at one point, but eventually the Reivers were just too much to handle.

“Coming out in the first set we were really prepared for what they were going to do,” Hoskins said. “I think they made a few more errors than what they normally do just based off of how we were trying to defend them, so I think that definitely helped us. Moving to sets two and three there, I think they kind of adjusted to what we were trying to do and at the end of the day they were able to make those adjustments and play like Iowa Western.”

Reiver head coach Alicia Williams said this was by no means the prettiest win her girls have had so far, but it’s not one she will give back.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON - Marshalltown Community College outside hitter Tarah Henderson (18) attempts to split Iowa Western defenders Genesis Sheridan (6) and Kelsey Havel (5) at the net on Wednesday.

“I think that it was really ugly on both sides, lots of missed serves, lots of aces, lots of just garbage and we finally started to get into a rhythm,” Williams said. “I think once we hit our rhythm we felt a little more comfortable and played a lot better.”

The momentum turn happened late in the first quarter, as Iowa Western (11-1, 2-0) rallied back to overtake the Tigers (9-2, 0-1) and spoil a potential first-set upset. The Reivers used that momentum to come out blazing in the second set, jumping out to a 6-0 lead before any of the MCC players knew what hit them.

It was a similar story in the third set, though that one was more competitive in the early going until Iowa Western pulled away after the Tiger trailed just 11-8 midway through.

Considering this was the first ICCAC match for nearly all of his roster, Hoskins said he expected there to be some shortcomings.

“We are definitely having growing pangs right now, any time we are running eight freshmen out there with our one sophomore there are going to be a lot of things that they haven’t seen in that level of volleyball yet this year,” he said. “Just kind of gaining that experience, hopefully we are able to grow from it and able to play more consistently as the year goes on.”

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON

Freshman Chiara Mottola was the top offensive threat for MCC with eight kills, while Marija Egic finished just behind with seven and South Tama County graduate Sadie Smith finished with four.

Jelena Dukic, the lone sophomore remaining from last season’s squad, again had a good night with 19 assists and eight digs and two blocks, and Hoskins said having her presence on the court is extremely important.

“It is really great having Jelena back, I feel like she is someone we can trust on the court as far as executing what we want to do,” Hoskins said. “There are still times where we have to talk to her about set decisions and everything that way where she isn’t doing exactly what we need to be doing, but she’s done a great job this year leading our girls both on and off the court and being a positive example for our freshmen.”

Halee Pedro led the team defensively with 15 digs, many coming on some acrobatic plays while saving strong strikes from Reiver hitters Genesis Sheridan and Kortlyn Henderson, and Egic had three blocks on the evening.

Where Marshalltown found success was behind the service line as it recorded five aces on Iowa Western, but it also gave up 10 points on service errors, though Hoskins said he doesn’t pay too much attention to that statistic.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON

“I honestly don’t mind our service errors at all,” he said. “If we are not getting those service errors that means we are not serving aggressively, and if we don’t serve aggressively a team like this is going to just run it down our throat and get that point anyway. I would rather us having those 10 points we are giving them versus giving them easy, in-system balls each time and them just score it on a kill.”

Sheridan was the top offensive player for Iowa Western with eight kills, with all of those coming in just two sets, while Henderson finished with seven kills and Irina Alekseeva recorded five.

Moving forward with the season now Hoskins said it’s a good thing the girls got a game against a top-ranked foe under their belts, now they know where they are finding success and which areas need to strengthen.

“I feel like we’ve got three areas we really need to improve on, starting with our block then carrying over to our serve-receive and out of system play,” Hoskins said. “If we are able to get those three things cleaned up and get a little bit more productive in those areas it will help us out tremendously.”

The Tigers will try to put that improvement plan into action when they travel to play Kishwaukee College in Malta, Ill., tonight, starting at 6 p.m.