KNOXVILLE – Nodaway Valley’s season came to a close Tuesday night, but not before putting up a fight against Class 2A No. 8 Van Buren.
After dropping the first two sets by decisive margins of 25-10 and 25-16, Nodaway Valley found itself within reaching distance at the midway point of the set.
Down 11-5, the Wolverines pulled it together to score four consecutive points off Whitney Lamb’s serve, including two aces. The score made it 12-9, a manageable deficit for the Wolverines.
NV surrendered two points, but Lexi Shike’s serve, including two more aces, pulled the score to a one-point game at 14-13.
With a previously deflated crowd now back in the game, the Wolverines clawed their way to a tie ballgame at 15-15.
The tie broke in favor of Van Buren, but the relentless attack of Corinne Bond and McKynli Newbury pulled it to a one-point game again at 20-19.
Down three points at 22-19, Maddax DeVault gained serve and had the the Warriors scrambling, getting help from a Bond push that found the floor, a block and a kill of her own to help facilitate five straight points to give Nodaway Valley a lead at 24-23, its first since early in the first set.
However, a dominant attack led by senior Salena Sare was able to pick up the game-tying point on a flip and the Warriors capitalized on a serve tipping off Bond’s fingers along with a missed attack attempt to seal the game at 26-24.
Battling back and contending in the third set against a state-bound Van Buren was something the coaching staff was proud of, including its improvement on the floor as the game progressed deeper.
“I think something we’re proud of is they got progressively better throughout the night,” said Nodaway Valley head coach Allison Kiburz. “They really adjusted to how the other team was playing. I think we were prepared for them coming in, but actually seeing them is a totally different monster. There wasn’t a point where I thought they gave up, ... and that was what we really wanted out of them.”
Stopping the attack of Sayre and Grace Davidson was tough and hard to adjust for while the match was in progress.
“We tried to prepare as much as we could,” said Kiburz. “We knew where they hit and we were there, it’s just hard when the ball is coming at you that fast and you have to make a split decision. Sayre, she adjusted to the defense every time (we) moved somebody. Davidson, I think we had a read on throughout the game.”
On if there was any relief for the Wolverines against Sayre, Kiburz had to tip her hat to her and acknowledge her ability to outmatch NV’s defense.
“She’s an all-state player (Sayre) and she’s really hard to defend. I think that was something I don’t know we could have fully adjusted to,” said Kiburz.
The relentless attack on the Wolverines made for quality back row play, according to Kiburz.
“Back row, they were really solid,” said Kiburz. “We knew it’d be a really hard coming in for them because we don’t see these type of skilled players all year. For them to hit it hard at us, it’s one thing from the stands to think we should have got a dig or whatever it was, but I’d like for anyone to come out there and have them (Sayre and Davidson) fire at them as they do and see how fast it really is.”
From the back row, Natalie Yonker dug out 18 balls for the team high. DeVault had 15 digs and Newbury had 11.
“They were just getting pelted at all game, so for them to take that role, I thought they did a really good job tonight,” said Kiburz.
Kiburz added the keys for NV working its way back into the game was constant adjustments on defense to keep Van Buren moving and adjusting to a new formation.
“Something we told them all night was that you have to attack, because if they set up their offense it’s going to be hard for us,” said Kiburz. “That was something I felt the girls really adjusted to, was hitting the entire time and finding the open spots and seeing where they were.”
Van Buren is state-bound as the No. 7 seed of eight teams in Class 2A. The Warriors will play Wednesday, Nov. 13 on court two at 2 p.m. against No. 2 Beckman Catholic (40-8).
Early in the first set, Nodaway Valley picked up its first of two leads all night at 4-3, but the mood quickly shifted on a loud and energetic NV sideline to silence as the Van Buren showed why it’s the No. 8 team in the class.
Seven consecutive points off of Isabel Manning’s serve from the Warriors made it 10-4. The Warriors maintained the lead, extending it to nine at 17-8 on a kill from Taryn Scheuermann.
NV’s last point in the set came off DeVault’s hand at 18-10. The serve following point was the last serve for Nodaway Valley in the set as the Warriors ran off seven straight points from Davidson’s serve.
The Wolverines getting called for playing out of rotation was the final point in the set as NV fell 25-10.
The second set opened with Van Buren taking an advantage at 5-1, but a kill from Bond along with kills into the deep far corner of Van Buren’s court and off blocks made it 7-5.
Van Buren let the Wolverines hang around, maintaining a lead down to a one-point difference at 10-9.
It was a one-point game again at 11-10 and 12-11, capitalizing off a long attack attempt and a Bond kill to make it within a one score game with Van Buren still ahead.
The game shifted as Van Buren pulled away on a 5-1 run to make it 17-12. The Warriors kept the momentum going once gaining serve at 19-15, scoring six straight on a combination of its dominant attacking front and struggling Wolverine offense.
A blocked attack attempt at the net led to the set-winning point for Van Buren at 25-16, putting the Warriors in the clinching position when it entered the third set.
Nodaway Valley battled at times, despite the three set loss, but Kiburz believes there is a good future ahead for the young team.
“I’m very hopeful for our team,” said Kiburz. “We’re a younger team and the Van Buren coach pulled me aside after and said ‘this was us last year,’ so I think there’s a ton of potential in this group and this game was a ton of experience in itself to see the environment and the experience.”
Bond was the team leader in kills with 12 on 36 attack attempts. DeVault also had 10 kills on 32 attempts.
Lexi Shike had 23 digs and was 15-for-15 on serves with two aces. Lamb also had two aces, going 9-for-10 at the line.
Bond and Lamb both blocked two shots.
Wolverines volleyball says goodbye to Newbury, Jozie Christensen and Naomi Daugherty due to graduation in the spring.
The trio have had impact both on the floor and off the floor to help make the team as successful as it was this season and prior seasons.
“All three of the seniors really stepped up into a leadership role this year, “ said Kiburz. “Jozie Christensen might not have got on the floor a lot, but she was there with them mentally the entire time and trying to keep everyone up. Naomi really had key hits for us at times this year and really came in on blocks on her side. ... McKynli had a hard job this year and she has really grown as a player. ... We’re really going to miss these seniors.”
Newbury led seniors in kills with 67 this season. She was 221 of 235 in serving with 21 aces. She was second on the team in assists with 19 and had three solo blocks to pair with 220 digs.
Daugherty had 30 kills in 11 attack attempts. She also had four assists and 21 digs along with 10 blocks total (one solo) in her senior season.
In 13 sets played, Christensen had one kill on three attempts. She was 0-for-1 at serve and didn’t register an assist or block. She had eight digs.