A short-handed City High volleyball team faced a tall order against Class 4A eighth-ranked Cedar Rapids Xavier on Tuesday at City High.
The host Little Hawks, playing without injured senior standout Michaela Nelson, couldn’t overcome Xavier’s aggressive play at the net and dropped the match by a 3-1 score.
“I think there is definitely a learning curve for us,” City coach Craig Pitcher said. “(Nelson) is definitely one of the better players in the state regardless of class.
“Sometimes, we do some goofy things out there. We have to realize who we have out there on the court and make the right adjustments.”
Pitcher said there is a chance Nelson could return this weekend. She has missed the last two weeks and a total of seven matches while recovering from concussion-like symptoms.
“We would like to have her back sometime this week,” Pitcher said.
Xavier won the first game 25-20, dropped the second game 25-23 and then bounced back to win Games 3 and 4 by scores of 25-13 and 25-14. The victory improved Xavier’s record to 15-5 on the season, while City, ranked 10th in Class 5A, fell to 8-5.
After splitting the first two games, Xavier jumped to an 8-2 lead in the third game before cruising to a 25-13 victory. The Saints were leading 16-5 when City responded by scoring two consecutive points in a row.
However, a nine-point deficit on two occasions was as close as City could get for the rest game three.
The Little Hawks scored the first two points in the fourth game, but the lead was brief as Xavier responded with eight consecutive points, forcing Pitcher to call a timeout in order to regroup.
Xavier expanded the lead to 10-2 before junior Rylee Price scored a point for the Little Hawks.
Xavier bolted to a 4-0 lead in the first game and never trailed. City fell behind 16-10, which forced Pitcher to call a timeout. Whatever he said worked, at least temporarily, because the Little Hawks trimmed the deficit to 17-14.
The Saints quelled the rally by scoring three consecutive points. They expanded their lead to 22-17, forcing Pitcher to call another timeout.
City bounced back to win the second game 25-23, taking its first lead of the match at 6-5. The Little Hawks led by four points on two occasions in the second period, only to see the Saints battle back.
Xavier junior Kayla Torson recorded a kill to even the score at 14-14 in the second game. Pitcher called another timeout and the Little Hawks responded by scoring the next point. The teams then traded leads four times throughout the rest of the second game.
The final lead change in the second game put City on top 21-20. The Saints crept back to within 24-23 before the Little Hawks sealed the deal.
“When we were in our system and hitting well, I think we had an advantage,” Pitcher said.
Price led City will 14 kills and senior Allison Fleming complemented her with 11. Senior Ruth Grace led the Little Hawks with 35 assists.