Rockets outlast Lions for state volleyball tourney berth
The Oskaloosa Herald
It’s been a trying week for Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont volleyball coach Gladys Genskow.
Earlier in the week, the young man who was living with the Genskow family passed away unexpectedly.
On Wednesday night, her volleyball team made the week a bit more happy for her as the Rockets overcame a first-set loss and a 4-0 deficit in the final set to secure the team’s second-ever state tournament berth with a 19-25, 25-17, 25-18, 20-25, 15-9 triumph over Des Moines Christian in their Class 2A regional final at Pella Christian High School.
The 34-5 Rockets, who last made the state tournament field in 2006 and sixth-ranked in the final poll, faces No. 4 Council Bluffs St. Albert next Wednesday at noon in a quarterfinal match at the US Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids.
“This season has been so good because they have supported me this whole past week because of what’s happened with my family,” Genskow said. “This win is great for them because they’ve wanted this all season long. Everybody’s been expecting it and we had to work hard tonight to get the win.
“It’s been great to work with these girls and this is one of the best teams I’ve had with a lot of great team camaraderie. They’ve been there are each other and for me all week long. I felt like sometimes they’re doing this for me. It’s like, ‘No, this is for you, for your team and for your school.’”
Early on, it seemed like the Lions, who end the season at 28-10, were going to spoil the Rockets’ party by taking the opening set.
Much of the set went back-and-forth between the teams when the Lions increased a slim one-point lead to five at 18-13.
Des Moines Christian maintained that margin before winning the set 25-19.
Then Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont began to gain some momentum after that opening-set loss.
With junior Sadie Baugher having the serve and the Rockets trailing 4-3, sophomore Karlie Taylor started to assert herself on the Lions. She began by getting one of her 27 kills on the night to give the serve to Baugher. Taylor added another kill over a Des Moines Christian block and had a block of her own for a 6-4 Rocket lead.
She recorded another kill to put Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont on top for good at 7-6.
The Rockets extended the lead to 19-10 by getting contributions from Taylor, Baugher, McKinley Moore, Tasha Alexander and Taylor Leffler.
Taylor scored the final three points for Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont as she recorded three kills, including one on set point on an overpass by the Lions.
The Rockets jumped out to a 7-2 lead early in the third set, never allowing Des Moines Christian to get into the set.
The Rockets would push the lead to 13-4 as Leffler, Taylor and Alexander all had kills and Leffler also contributed in an ace for that eight-point margin.
Des Moines Christian managed to trim the deficit to 23-18, but a combined block by Moore and Alexander, followed by a Taylor kill spotted the Rockets a 2-1 lead in sets.
The fourth set had Des Moines Christian in control with a 12-7 advantage before Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont tallied a five-point spurt to get to within one at 13-12.
The Rockets would go ahead at 17-16 on a hitting error by the Lions’ Brynn Reichardt, but that would be the last lead the Rockets would enjoy. Des Moines Christian scored nine of the last 12 points to even the match at 2 sets all.
The Lions appeared to have the final set in their grasp by getting out to a 4-0 lead when Genskow called her team over for a timeout.
It worked as Taylor tipped the ball past the Lion defenders and Haegen Boyer served an ace to make it 4-2. She later added another ace to tie the set at 4 while Leffler blocked Madeline Wieskamp to put the Rockets ahead for the first time in the set at 5-4.
The teams traded points until a double-hit by Des Moines Christian gave Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont the lead at 9-8.
It would be a lead the Rockets would not give up. Taylor recorded three kills and Leffler closed out the match with an ace as the Rocket players stormed the floor to celebrate a spot in net week’s state tournament.
“After we got that first set out of the way, we made adjustments as we needed and starting getting the momentum in our direction,” Genskow said. “Our kids are true fighters. They never gave up at any time or on anyone. They played hard with every point.”
Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont 19-25-25-20-15, Des Moines Christian 25-17-18-25-9