WYOMING - It’s been tough stringing together wins for the Midland volleyball program over the last several years, so when the Eagles opened their own home tournament against a good Monticello team Saturday, Sept. 7, fans may have been thinking it would be more of the same.
During the first game of the first-round pool play match, it was nothing of the kind as Midland had the Panthers on the ropes before succumbing to an eventual two-set setback.
The Eagles (1-7, 0-1) raced to a 13-7 lead in the opening set as Midland players, coaches and fans were on their feet celebrating impressive point after impressive point.
Then, after seemingly taking a 14-7 advantage, the referees switched a call and took a point away from the hosts. It proved to be a huge momentum swinging sequence, as Midland did not score again in the game dropping a 21-13 opener before Monticello rolled to a 21-8 triumph in the second and final set.
Ari Hacke and Allison Paulsen topped Eagle hitters coming through with three kills each while Brennah Ricketts and Kirstin Schaefer chipped in with two more each.
Hope Soroka set nine assists and Taylor Bahnsen tallied six digs. Midland serving was also solid in the match as the team connected on 91-percent overall with Bahnsen coming through with the Eagles’ lone ace.
Midland looked to reclaim some of that early magic playing Central City in the second match of pool play, but were instead handed a 12-21, 12-21 setback.
Ella Rupp, Ricketts and Paulsen all connected fore two kills while Bahnsen was busy in the back row with 19 digs.
The Eagles picked up their first win of the 2019 campaign in the third match of pool play, rallying for a 22-24, 21-9, 15-7 triumph over Lone Tree.
Rupp had a big match slamming down six kills while also going 9-of-10 at the service line with two aces.
Soroka had a huge service game drilling 19-of-19 over the net with three aces. As a team the hosts tallied 10 aces in the match with Bahnsen adding three more.
The final match of pool play saw Midland edged in a 12-21, 21-16, 5-15 final against Central Elkader.
Hacke’s five kills paced the host offense while Ricketts tallied four more. Paulsen was 10-for-10 at the service line as the team served at a 90-percent clip.
Midland’s final match of the tournament saw a 13-21, 15-21 setback against Calamus-Wheatland in a cross pool play contest.
Serving struggles cost the team as Midland connected on just 79-percent at the line though Bahnsen and Maisie Paulsen did manage two aces each.
Hacke’s four kills led the offense while Allison Paulsen tallied three more. Soroka (5) and Tatem Galloway (4) combined to set nine assists.
Midland opened Tri-Rivers Conference play at Calamus-Wheatland Thursday, Sept. 5, and after getting off to a hot start dropped a 25-17, 19-25, 21-25, 13-25 final.
Allison Paulsen and Ricketts each slammed down seven kills in the four-set match while Soroka set 18 assists and was 10-of-12 serving the volleyball.
Bahnsen (14), Rupp (13) and Soroka (13) combined to get to 40 digs in the Eagle back row while the Midland defense was also impressive coming through with nine total blocks, led by three from Ricketts.
Bahnsen’s 14-of-14 serving night paced the Eagles, as did her five aces as the team tallied 12 of them in the match. Maisie Paulsen, Ricketts and Rupp all added two more each for the visitors.