It took four sets, but Creston downed Denison-Schleswig 25-22, 15-25, 25-19, 25-22 on Thursday at home to pick up its first Hawkeye 10 win of the season.
The Panthers bolted out to a 14-5 lead in the fourth set with a couple of aces and a few nice serving runs from Emma Hanson, Bree Ross and Megan Haley.
But as they did most of the night, the Monarchs of Denison-Schleswig hung around and quickly turned the tide, winning nine of the next 10 points to make it 15-14.
Out of a timeout in which the Panther coaches reminded the team to relax, Creston fought its way back to a four-point lead, 20-16, with a Kelsey Fields kill.
After trading attacking errors and points, Creston found itself with a few match points.
Hanson pounded a ball to the back right corner, which the Monarchs dug, but sent it into the rafters of the Panther gym, hitting the ground and ending the match.
Three different Creston players ended the night with double-digit kills as Fields (15), Hanson (12) and Taylor Buxton (10) found openings throughout the night.
“They were thinking about where the block was, thinking about where our hitters were,” said Creston co-head coach Mallory Peterson.
“They were more proactive,” added co-head coach Naomi Sharp.
Buxton put the finishing touches on the third set by picking up a kill after the ball fell in between a number of Monarchs after glancing off the top of the net.
MaKenna Hudson set up the kill after reaching for one of her 16 digs in the contest.
“She’s going to continue to dig balls that no one else is going to,” said Peterson, impressed with her junior libero.
The third set was even early as neither team could muster more than two points in a row until Hudson started serving for Creston.
With Hudson on the back line the Panthers pushed out to a five-point advantage, picking up two kills from Hanson and one from Buxton.
Along with her 10 kills, Buxton scooped up 13 digs and served an ace.
Bree Ross dished out assists left and right as her 37 passes led to a majority of the Panthers’ 46 kills.
The first two sets featured some of the similar traits of Creston’s squad that the coaching staff is continuing to address as the Panthers are now fully engrossed in conference play.
“It feels really good to get a conference win,” said Peterson. “We lacked communication which caused those unforced errors in the second set. We can’t afford to take any points off communicating.”
Miscommunication led to a second set letdown.
At 5-all, Denison-Schleswig went on a seven-point serving run behind senior Alex Mohr in which she had three aces and Hannah Neeman added a kill.
The Monarchs continued to pull away, tying up the match at one set apiece after dropping the first set.
To open the contest, D-S took a 20-16 lead, but the Panthers put together a run in which they won nine of 11 points. Brianna Fields’ two aces separated the two squads that were even at 20-20.
Creston took the first set after the Monarchs hit a ball under the net.
It’s a solid win for the Panthers against a Monarch team that featured plenty of height in its front row.
The Monarchs had even more of a height advantage since Panthers are without Sam Dunphy (illness) for the next few weeks.
UP NEXT – Creston (7-3, 1-2 in H10) heads to Glenwood for the Red Oak tournament where they will play a number of teams (to be determined) in pool play.
Creston 3, Denison-Schleswig 1
Serving (aces) — Crest: MaKenna Hudson 21-21 (2), Bree Ross 16-17, Emma Hanson 15-17 (1), Brianna Fields 15-17 (2), Megan Haley 13-13 (2), Taylor Buxton 4-6 (1).
Attacks (kills) — Crest: Kelsey Fields 29-35 (15), Hanson 25-31 (12), Buxton 29-33 (10), Haley 15-18 (3), B. Fields 9-10 (2), Hudson 3-4 (1), Ross 3-3.
Blocks (solo, assists) — Crest: B. Fields (1,0), Hanson (1,0), K. Fields (0,1).
Setting (assists) — Crest: Ross 37, Hudson 2, Peyton Rice 1, Buxton 1, Haley 1.
Digs — Crest: Hudson 16, Buxton 13, Haley 13, Ross 12, B. Fields 4, Rice 3, Hanson 2, K. Fields 2.