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Bobcats close out home finale

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE - Marshalltown junior setter Sydney Faltys (3) battles for a ball at the net with Mason City’s Chloe Callanan (13) during the fourth and final set of Tuesday’s CIML Iowa Conference match at the Roundhouse. The Bobcats won, 25-12, 25-14, 18-25, 25-21.

A daunting schedule that saw the Marshalltown High School volleyball team play six matches in three days made its way back to the Roundhouse for one final home contest for the Bobcats’ five seniors.

The price of playing a seventh match on the fourth day was nearly more than Marshalltown could afford.

But by the time the note came due, the Bobcats had fought back to hold off hard-charging Mason City on Tuesday, beating the Mohawks in four sets (25-12, 25-14, 18-25, 25-21) to claim a CIML Iowa Conference triumph in Marshalltown’s final match inside the Roundhouse this season.

“I was excited, we had most of the students here and that really helped us,” said Bobcat senior Kyra Feldman. “It kind of seemed like a normal season game for us so I liked it.”

The MHS student section was atypically packed for a pandemic, but the frenzied Bobcat fans were cheering behind their face masks while waving brooms in hope of a conference sweep of Mason City.

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE

The match seemed destined to go the Bobcats’ way, but the Mohawks (2-13, 1-2) caught Marshalltown on its heels in the third set and pushed through to force at least a fourth set.

Trailing 9-4 in the fourth, MHS head coach Kaylee Peschong called a quick timeout to address her team’s slumping play.

“Yeah we’ve had a lot of volleyball played here in this stretch and so I think we had to work through a lot of that tiredness and fatigue,” said Peschong. “Obviously we went through a stretch there where we were making a lot of errors and had to pull ourselves out of it, but I think you could tell we had played a lot lately.

“I’m proud we could pull that out and finish it.”

The Bobcats (7-8, 1-2) managed to close out their first conference win of the season despite one of their leading hitters getting hurt in the waning moments of the fourth set. Junior middle hitter Autumn Finch gave MHS a 21-19 lead with her successful kill from the right side, but she came up hobbling with what appeared to be a sprained ankle.

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE

Finch played through the pain with a noticeable limp for a handful of points at the net, but persevered long enough to work through the rotation so she could watch her teammates close out the match. Junior outside hitter Hayden Oetker chalked up a pair of kills and senior outside hitter Brittany Sichra finished the match with consecutive kills.

“I think [Finch] does a good job, she’s a competitor and she’s going to be out there as much as she can so I think it’s important for our team to see that she battles for them,” said Peschong. “I could see it in her face she was good enough to be out there, but she would have let me [take her out of the lineup] if it were too bad.”

Finch finished with a match-high 19 kills to lead the Bobcats to victory, while Oetker added 13 kills from the outside. Junior outside hitter Sophie Younkin added seven kills and Sichra finished with six more.

Setters Sydney Faltys and Drew Carson came away with 25 and 14 assists, respectively.

“I think that coming off a long weekend and a late, late night last night, my expectation is still the same, that we’ve got to come out ready to defend our home court and play really hard,” Peschong said. “I think we came out that way — I think we did a good job coming out of the gates that way — but as you could tell we ran out of gas a little bit, but I’m glad we could pull that off.”

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE

Feldman, who led the Bobcat defense with 19 digs, said Peschong’s message in the timeout trailing 9-4 in the fourth set was a simple one, but something the squad needed to hear.

“I think she just really asked us to bring the energy and forget about the past mistakes and move on,” Feldman said. “It’s just one point at a time so the closer you get, the more energy you get, the more momentum you get and the better you feel about the game, so we just had to take it one point at a time to finish.

“That means so much. I was so happy we were able to come out, compete and take a ‘W’ for the final game at home with all our parents and all our friends watching.”

Marshalltown managed to overcome 11 missed serves by racking up 10 aces, while the defense stood tall against Mason City’s right-side-heavy attack. Finch finished with four blocks, Sichra and Faltys had two apiece, and both Younkin and Oetker added another.

Younkin pitched in with 17 digs while both Sichra and Emma Bair, a senior defensive specialist, recorded seven digs.

Tiegan Barkema led Mason City with seven kills, while Jada Williams and Chloe Callanan had six kills apiece. Emma Hollander had four kills and four blocks, and Aubree Hansen added four kills as well.

Marshalltown is off until next Tuesday, Oct. 6, when the Bobcats travel to face Class 5A No. 2 Ankeny.

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