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Shorthanded Tigers swept by Ellsworth

T-R PHOTO BY NOAH ROHLFING - Marshalltown Community College sophomore Yatnia Hernandez (4) tips the ball over the attempted block by Ellsworth freshman Jade Galligo (8) during Thursday’s Iowa Community College Athletic Conference volleyball match at MCC.

It’s not often a volleyball team has to play 5-on-6 for an entire game — especially not at the collegiate level.

But in 2021, anything can happen — and Marshalltown CC found itself in this unenviable position Thursday night in a 3-0 loss to Ellsworth CC (4-10).

The Tigers, through injury and COVID reasons, came into the game with only six players suited up. But there was a catch — Jelena Vucic was injured in training off-court and was not cleared by athletic trainers to play in the game. So, in order for the Tigers to play, Vucic stood on the court before each serve and then hobbled off the court as quickly as possible to get out of the way once the ball was in play. She even served some, getting two aces.

But for the entire game, the Tigers were a player down and playing largely out of position. Which makes the fact they scored at least 19 points in each of the three sets all the more impressive.

Head coach Chris Brees was impressed with how the team coped largely, especially on the defensive end of the floor.

T-R PHOTO BY NOAH ROHLFING - MCC sophomore middle hitter Andjela Bobic (11) tries for the kill against Ellsworth defender Jade Galligo (8) during Thursday’s volleyball match at the Student Activity Center.

“We made the adjustment today, without practicing it on the fly,” Brees said. “And when you already don’t have subs because of other injuries, we just had to adapt. Which was disappointing, because clearly I think our matchup would have been different if [Jelena] had been on the court.”

The Tigers lost the first set 25-19, but with good defense and just enough attacking MCC was within four before a late run ended the set. They got even closer in the second set, as Bojana Stekovic started to get into a rhythm from her outside hitter position. Stekovic had nine kills, a team high, and the Tigers were down just 20-18 late in the set. Elmwood went on a 5-2 run to close it out, but at the start of the third set MCC once again played close.

The Tigers took a lead at 15-13 and were up 20-18 with a chance to take a set off of the Panthers. Ellsworth went on a 7-0 run to close out the match. Natalia Maciejewska led the Tigers with 16 assists on the offensive. Stekovic led the team in digs with eight and had six aces as well.

The Tigers will likely be a player down again on Sunday against Iowa Western CC at home.

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