Taking baby steps might not be the best way to get anywhere fast, but if you’re more interested in just eventually getting there, they will suffice.
“From the start of the season we are making baby steps forward,” West High coach Kathy Bresnahan said. “We are much more consistent. I thought we played exceptionally well in our tournament. We still make too many goofy errors, but… .”
West High swept Linn-Mar 25-18, 25-19, 25-23 in a Mississippi Valley Conference non-divisional volleyball match Tuesday at home. The Women of Troy improved to 12-5 and remain unbeaten in league play, while Linn-Mar is 12-8 overall and has yet to win an MVC match but was coming off a tournament win Saturday.
“I thought at times we passed fairly well,” Bresnahan said. “And I thought our outsides, Toni (Martins) and Laynie (Whitehead) and Mollie (Mason) did an incredible job finding openings. At times we played OK defense. And I don’t think we missed a serve after the second game.”
“Our passing was definitely a lot better than in past weeks,” setter Lizzy Klemme said. “First contact is very important. Linn-Mar was a little bit faster paced than a few of the teams we’ve been playing. We just had to stay in our base and read the hitter.”
The Women of Troy broke open the first set with a six-point run that included a Mikaela Morgan kill and an ace by Ali Tauchen in addition to three Linn-Mar hitting errors.
Senior Mollie Mason was unstoppable in set two with seven kills all by herself. She also had two aces. Mason finished with 13 kills in the match to lead all players.
“Mollie killed it,” Whitehead said. “Mollie could get kills so easily. She had a few aces, too, that were key; they really gave us a lot of momentum. The ability to set Mollie on a high ball is great.”
West plays a 6-2 alignment so Klemme is the setter when Whitehead is in the front row and Whitehead sets when she rotates to the back and Klemme goes out.
“(Mason’s) really consistent so she’s the go-to person when we need help,” Klemme said.
The third set was tight the whole way. The Lions led 17-14 before West tied it on two Mason kills and a Lion error. The Women of Troy scored four in a row to take a 21-18 lead, but the Lions answered with four straight of their own for a 22-21 lead.
West took timeout.
“She just wanted us to have more energy and push through to win in three,” Whitehead said.
Immediately Mason got a kill, Toni Martins killed it down the line and a Lion hitting error gave West a 24-22 lead. Whitehead’s eighth kill of the match ended it.
“Our passing was on tonight,” Whitehead said. “That helps a lot. We had a lot of positive energy coming from our teammates when we weren’t doing well. I know I struggled a lot, but my teammates were there encouraging me.
“Also I think Emily Halverson did a great job blocking tonight. She had some key blocks, momentumly. Like we didn’t have a ton necessarily. We just had a lot of momentum from the ones we got. And we started to be able to pick up their hits toward the end of the game. We got more into it.”
West’s defense did pick up as the match wore on. Martins made a key dig in the third game to prolong a point that West eventually won during a rally to tie late in the game.