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Bobcats top No. 7 Lynx at SE Polk Tournament

Erica Johnson

PLEASANT HILL — The Marshalltown High School volleyball team ended a four-match losing streak and then beat a ranked team, but it wasn’t enough to buoy the Bobcats for the rest of their stay at the Southeast Polk Tournament on Saturday.

Marshalltown went 2-2 with a win against the highest-ranked team it faced, following up an opening sweep of Des Moines East (21-8, 21-8) with a thrilling three-set victory over Class 5A No. 7 Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln (6-21, 21-15, 15-13).

The Bobcats were unable to finish off a perfect day in pool play, falling to 3A No. 10 Red Oak (21-13, 21-9), and then bowed out in bracketed play against 5A No. 9 Indianola (21-18, 24-26, 15-11).

In the three-set comeback win against Council Bluffs Lincoln, the Bobcats (3-6) rallied from a decisive first-set loss to take the next two sets. Erica Johnson finished with eight kills, Autumn Finch had five more, and the Bobcats registered four blocks and a whopping 46 digs. Kyra Feldman and Johnson had 10 digs apiece and Madi Finch finished with 16 assists.

“That win was the biggest for our program in the last two seasons,” said MHS head coach Chris Brees. “I had hoped it would translate into another win on the day but we lost some focus.”

Red Oak ripped right through the Bobcats in straight sets, but Marshalltown stiffened up to resist Indianola in three close sets.

For the day, Johnson finished with a team-high 29 kills and 41 digs while serving 18-for-19 with two aces. Sophie Younkin contributed 20 kills, Autumn Finch had 11 kills and Hayden Oetker added eight kills. Madi Finch totaled 64 assists.

“We played more consistently and were better on the defensive side of the ball, which allowed us to spread our offense a lot more,” Brees said. “Erica had a great day for us on offense and defense. It was the most comfortable she has looked all season.”

Feldman racked up 20 digs and served 31-for-32 with two aces, while Madi had 11 digs, a team-high three blocks and served 21-for-25 with a Bobcat-best three aces. Brittany Sichra served 17-for-19 while racking up 30 digs.

Grace Fisher contributed 17 digs, Mayah Carson served 12-for-13 and Tasia Pohle chipped in four kills on the day.

Marshalltown remains on the road for its next match, meeting 5A No. 12 Southeast Polk in a CIML Iowa Conference match on Tuesday night.

“We will need to continue to improve to try and get another upset at Southeast Polk Tuesday,” said Brees.