On Saturday, the echos of cheers, whistles and volleyballs hitting the floor could be heard from outside Forest City High School.
Among the six area teams to compete, Lake Mills, Forest City and Central Springs were the top performers.
The Lake Mills Bulldogs went undefeated in five matches against Webster City, Clear Lake, Clarion-Goldfield-Dows, Roland Story and Algona without dropping a single set. Their closest set would be an end-of-the day battle against Algona, 21-18.
The first set wasn’t close, Lake Mills defeated Algona 21-8, but the second set got interesting when sophomore outside hitter Abbey Holmes swung six kills to put Lake Mills at an 8-12 deficit.
But head coach Jim Boehmer’s timeout would switch gears for the Bulldogs.
“We started playing the game as if Algona might lose it, and Algona is not gonna lose, you’re going to have to beat Algona,” Boehmer said. “Nobody ever wins a match, you can’t get all excited about winning one set. It doesn’t matter if you beat them 21-0, you can beat them 21-23 and it’s 1-1, you just have to get momentum and if we end up playing a third set we just want momentum for a third set.”
Lake Mills came out of the timeout with renewed energy, outscoring Algona 13-6 to take the second set 21-18 to keep their undefeated record for the day.
“So far this year every time we’ve had that type of timeout talk, the girls will come back and win the set,” Boehmer said.
Four hitters had double-digit kills on the day. Senior Mallory Wilhelm led the team with 34, with .471 percent accuracy and a team-high of five blocks on defense. Senior Teah Kesler had 27, while juniors Megan Groe and Hannah hanson had 16 and 14 kills respectively.
Senior Dana Baumann led the back line with 23 digs and senior Laura Knudtson had 18. Ashley Groe had 90 assists.
Central Springs and Forest City each had one loss for the day.
The Panthers had victories over Clear Lake, Boone, St. Ansgar and Spencer, but dropped two sets to CGD.
Head coach Ron Pedersen noted that junior middle blocker Cassey Bly and senior Anna Dietrich are still adjusting to the speed of the game and adjustments on varsity.
“For having all new hitters, I thought we did really well, we’re picking up our speed, we’re doing more quick plays on our offense,” Pedersen said. “That’s a tough game, they’re a good team, they’ve got some strong hitters, we had a lot of serving errors and mental errors in our hitting.”
Senior setter Kaylee Parks and junior middle blocker Hannah Ausenhus have continued to exemplify leadership on the team, communicating with the new hitters on how to adjust. The recent movement of senior Morgan Kelly from outside hitter to libero has made a positive impact on the Panthers’ defensive game.
Junior Kessa Fingalsen posted a team-high of 36 kills, Ausenhus was second with 31 and Dietrich had 19. Parks had 77 assists and Kelly had 61 digs.
The Panthers (14-5) take on Northwood-Kensett (5-13) at home Tuesday night.
Forest City defeated Spencer, Boone and CGD. Their first loss this season was to Roland Story in two straight sets.
“Our first match went well, we played Clarion-Goldfield-Dows, we lost to them first round last year, so it was nice to come out strong against them,” head coach Lacy Jerome said. “We struggled against Roland-Story, and we dropped our first match of the season, did not play well, did not play good defense, did not do well offensively and the last two matches were pretty strong for us.”
In their final match against Boone, Forest City overcame a first-set loss, 21-16 to win the next two 21-14 and 15-9. The Indians totaled 10 blocks, slowing down Boone’s offense to take control in the final two sets.
Senior Hannah Anderson dominated the front and back row with 24 kills and 29 digs for the day. Junior Cora Holland also posted 20 kills. Senior Brea Dillavou had 71 assists and junior Kelsey Koch had 25 digs.