The Lions had a rough start to the week, but despite dropping three games to Hampton-Dumont, Coach Richie Ellis says his team rebounded mentally and showed well against Charles City and Mason City in a Thursday triangular. Losses to the three teams put the Lions’ record at 3-7 overall and 0-2 in the North Central Conference.
H-D 3, CL 0
The Hampton-Dumont Bulldogs took a bite out of Clear Lake Tuesday, Sept. 5. The home team was in control throughout the match, winning by scores of 25-13, 25-5 and 25-17.
“We didn’t have a very good night against Hampton-Dumont,” said Coach Ellis. “The only real bright side to the night was our serving. We were 91 percent from the line with three aces.”
Maranda Harrison and Chloe Mueller led the Lions at the service line, going 10/10 and 9/9 respectively. Harrison had one ace and Mueller contributed two. Julie Merfeld was also perfect on her five serves. Joslyn Gannon and Macy Mixdorf were each 4/5 serving and Sara Faber went 2/3.
“We ended the night with 45 errors, which is unacceptable,” said Coach Ellis. “Our passing and serve receive was very poor, so we couldn’t get any offense going.”
Mixdorf was the leading hitter with four kills. Kayla Ritter put down three and Faber had two kills.
Mueller led the team in digs with eight.
“All in all I was disappointed with our performance and I know the girls feel the same way,” added the coach.
Charles City 2, CL 1
The Lions shook off the loss to Hampton-Dumont and came out firing against Charles City Thursday, Sept. 7. The match was part of a triangular with Mason City.
The Lions took the first set from the Class 4A rated Comets by a score of 25-23 and were riding a wave of momentum into the second set.
“We lost some momentum towards the end of the set and couldn’t quite recover and lost set two, 23-25. Set three, we let them get the momentum by committing too may hitting errors,” explained Coach Ellis. “I felt our passing was spot on, which led to some great plays.”
The Lions dropped the third set, 15-8.
Sara Faber led the team offensively with eight kills. Maranda Harrison and Mikayla Vanderploeg each had five.
“Chloe Mueller had a great night in serve receive, making a huge turn around from Tuesday night,” added the coach. Mueller recorded a team-high 17 digs. “Julia Merfeld also had a nice night defensively.”
Kayla Ritter put in 12 of 13 serve attempts and had two aces to pace the Lions. Mueller was 8/8 with one ace, Merfeld and Jenna Wilkinson was 7/7 and Macy Mixdorf was 7/8 serving with two aces.
Mason City 2, CL 0
Mason City followed up Charles City’s victory over the Lions by sweeping the team, 25-19, 25-20.
“We expended a lot of mental energy against Charles City which I feel affected us against Mason City. However, I was still very pleased with our effort and the way we played,” said Coach Ellis. “Mason City has some pretty good size and we had a tough time hitting around their blockers.”
The coach noted that once again the Lions’ passing was much improved, which led to much better all around play.
“It is a lot easier running an offense when we can make a good pass,” he said.
Maranda Harrison was again a force at the net and led the team with six kills. Junior Mikayla VanderPloeg, who was stepping in to replace an injured Josslyn Gannon, had four kills.
“She (VanderPloeg) had a lot of touches at the net, which slowed down the opponents’ attacks enough for our back row to make plays,” added Coach Ellis.
Serving continues to be a strength for the Lions. They served at 97 percent, led by Julia Merfeld (9/9), Kayla Ritter (8/8), Jenna Wilkinson (5/5) and Harrison (5/5). Mueller went 7/8 at the service line. Merfeld and Ritter each had two aces.
“I am very proud of the way the girls rebounded mentally from a poor performance Tuesday. We really showed how well we can play when we believe in our abilities. We just need to clean up a few minor things and I think we will be back on track,” said Coach Ellis.