LENOX — East Union and Lenox each split a pair of matches during the Lenox Quadrangular with the Eagles sweeping the Tigers 25-16, 25-18 in the final tilt Thursday night.
Class 1A No. 1 Sidney went 2-0 in its two matches, defeating Earlham 25-6, 25-12 and East Union 25-19, 25-12. Lenox, which began the quadrangular with a 25-19, 25-13 win over Earlham, was hampered by ankle injuries to Luana Plese and Cassidy Nelson in the Tigers’ first match.
“We had a couple injuries early to a couple of key people, but we also had a player step up from off the bench,” Lenox head coach Jesse Cox said.
With Plese out, Brooklyn Ecklin went into the Tigers’ back row and Cox platooned Michaela Standley, Jynessa Cox and Cadence Douglas within the front row. Ashlee David came in for Nelson.
“The girls who came into the match played just like the girls who they replaced,” Coach Cox said. “We run the JV system just like the varsity system. I believe in the theory of the next man up, and the girls did it. Before the game, we talked about everyone being ready and, sure enough, we had to have five girls come in and play.”
Lenox 2, Earlham 0
With the Tigers up 9-6 in the first set against Earlham, Plese came down awkwardly on the foot of a teammate before Nelson tweaked her ankle a few points later. The Cardinals scored four straight points to grab a 10-9 advantage, their only lead of the match.
Lenox regained control behind four consecutive points from Jordan England (kill, block), Ecklin (ace) and another kill for a 13-10 lead. Though Earlham rallied for ties at 16 and 17, it never took the lead.
A serving error by the Cardinals ignited an 8-2 Lenox run to end Set 1, featuring kills from England (two), Standley and Camryn Douglas.
The Tigers controlled the second set from the start, building leads of 7-2, 13-4 and 15-8 before Lenox scored 10 of the final 15 points.
Douglas finished with a team-high five kills for Lenox, which received five digs, four kills and four blocks from TJ Stoaks. Nelson and Kayla Yzaguirre chipped in seven digs apiece. Five different Tigers (Yzaguirre, Stoaks, Christensen, Ecklin and David) served aces.
Sidney 2, East Union 0
The No. 1 Cowgirls trailed the Eagles 14-6 in the first set before Sidney rallied to score 19 of the final 24 points.
The Cowgirls controlled the second set from the start, taking leads of 9-2, 13-3, 17-6 and 21-7 before East Union made a four-point run featuring a kill and a block from Alissa Weinkoetz and an ace from Olivia Cheers.
“We came out a little flat, but we have been making some changes in our lineup. We have been trying to find the sweet flow that works for us,” East Union head coach Gail Thatcher said. “It was nice to practice that against another team (Sidney) before really getting into that rhythm against Lenox.”
Weinkoetz came away with team-highs blocks (four) and kills (two) for the Eagles. Mallory Raney added two kills while Grace Nixon contributed four blocks and Jayden Welcher had 12 digs.
“We moved some of our blockers around so that we could have more of an advantage with that,” Thatcher said. “I think it was an advantage because we did get up on a lot of blocks and it made them hit around us.”
East Union 2, Lenox 0
The changes in the Eagles’ lineup paid off against Lenox as East Union logged 15 kills and six blocks in a sweep.
“We clicked in our match against Lenox,” Thatcher said. “We have been serving well, and we did that tonight. I think we only had three or four (bad) serves, but they weren’t serves that hurt us.”
East Union went 47 of 50 at the serving line with aces from Cheers (three), Weinkoetz (one) and Mikala Sanson (one).
Coach Cox was impressed with the Eagles.
“East Union is a very good passing team and they’re a good serve-receive team,” Coach Cox said. “(The balls that) we did get over the net were not for a very high percentage. East Union was able to keep them in play and hit them right back to us.”
Weinkoetz (six), Sanson (five) and Raney (three) were the kill leaders for the Eagles. Nixon and Cheers each added two block assists. Elizabeth Hardy created 14 assists while Welcher made 13 digs.
Stoaks had a match-high eight kills for Lenox, which benefitted from Douglas’ eight kills. Stoaks added seven digs and three blocks while Yzaguirre came up with seven digs and an ace. Caitlyn Maynes also served an ace.
Thatcher wants her team to pay attention to every detail.
“We have been talking about doing the little things, play well defensively, find our hitters and get the ball put on the floor,” Thatcher said.
UP NEXT – East Union (6-8) plays in a triangular with Stanton at Southwest Valley Monday. Lenox (9-5) plays a Pride of Iowa Conference match at Southwest Valley Tuesday.