Volleyball: Indians fight hard in loss to #2 Wolfpack
The Spirit Lake volleyball team put together a hard-fought effort but second-ranked (Class 2-A) Western Christian was just a little too much to handle in a Lakes Conference opener that had a patriotic feel to it as both teams honored the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks Tuesday night. The homecoming week contest saw the Indians get to double digits in all three games against a Wolfpack team that has won eight state titles and is coming off a state runner-up season, with the game scores being 25-10, 25-12 and 25-12.
"Well that was the big thing that we wanted to focus on all week was competing at a high level against a great team like that," said Spirit Lake coach Beau Dielschneider. "We feel like we can compete with anybody when we play at a high level and that showed tonight. Western Christian was able to set up a number of plays and it showed when we couldn't get to the blocks quick enough because they were running a number of quicks, but we challenged them. Bailey Loveall, Kendra Stokke and a lot of the other girls were challenging their blockers and defensively our back row girls weren't afraid and they were aggressive getting to the hits and everybody did a nice job. Now that next level is playing consistent and not having those breaks where we let the other team slip away. But they did a good job, I'm proud of them."
The Indians scrappiness and ability to hustle to and chase down balls forced the Wolfpack into uncharacteristically making mistakes throughout the match.
"That (speed) really defines our defense," said Dielschneider. "Our girls are really, really quick athletes. They play all the other sports, too, and that helps us defensively. The girls know how to run with those hard hits and scramble to the ball. Their raw athleticism kept Western on their toes offensively. We're quick, we really are."
Spirit Lake's Bailey Loveall set the tone on the second point with a block, and even though the Wolfpack moved ahead 15-3 after a couple of long serving runs, the Indians came up with kills from Paige Krause, Kaela Delperdang and Kendra Stokke late in the first set.
Kayla Herrig gave SL a short-lived 1-0 lead in the second set with a kill. Western Christian moved back ahead 11-5 before Joie Veldman capped off a long rally with a kill. Loveall helped the Indians stick within 10 points with two late kills, although all-state hitter Brooke Wolterstorff scored a kill off a quick set from Jamie Gesink and then capped off a 25-12 win with a block.
The Indians never got going after moving ahead 1-0 in the third set, getting outscored 12-4 midway through the game. Gesink and Kim Kroeze both used three-point serving runs to push the Wolfpack lead up to 21-8, but the Indians got late kills from Alissa Christoffer and Stokke before Wolterstorff fired off back-to-back kills, including the game-winner off a back set.
"I just wanted to say that our girls were ready and excited to play," said Dielschneider. "They weren't afraid of Western Christian. They weren't afraid and did a good job of attacking them. They've worked hard and are improving and as the season moves on we're going to see some great things from them and see them play at a high level. Really I just want to say good job to all of the girls."
Stokke and Veldman led the Indians with four kills each and Paige Krause passed out 13 set assists.
Defensively, Bailey Loveall swatted three block assists. Stokke had seven digs and Carter Hassel finished with three digs.
Alissa Christoffer (3 for 3), Kaela Delperdang (4 for 4) and Bailey Loveall (6 for 6) all had 100 percent serving efforts.
The Indians are back on the court Saturday at the Forest City Invitational.