Creston volleyball took Harlan to the limit Tuesday night, going five sets, but the Panthers were unable to hold back the Cyclones in a 3-2 loss.
Creston played well from start to finish, winning the second (25-21) and third set (25-16). Harlan won the first set (25-16), fourth set (25-20) and fifth set (15-12).
In the fifth set, Creston controlled the game. A 9-4 lead had the Panthers on the verge of taking a victory, but Harlan refused to quit.
An 8-1 run by Harlan put the Cyclones on top. Creston mistakes such as a long or outside attack attempts, serves into the net and violations kept Harlan in the game.
With the momentum on their side, the Cyclones closed out the game 15-12. Harlan trailed by as much as five in the final frame, and had the game-winning point scored on a push to the back row by Delaney Wegner.
“I wanted that one. (The team) wanted that one,” said Creston head coach Traci Haley. “... We’ve been in that game five before. We played them first to five. Once we got to five, we go to 10. We’ve got to get to 10,” said Haley. “Got to 10, and stalled out. ... We just could have cleaned up a few more things that game.”
Haley hopes the play from Tuesday will carry into the playoffs next week. Creston gets Winterset in the opening round of the Class 4A Region 2 quarterfinal next Tuesday at 7 p.m.
“You brought last night’s third set to tonight, now we step it up and take this intensity and level of play and take it to Winterset. We’ve got a few days to work it out and get us there,” said Haley. “... They just need to take that momentum into Winterset.”
Back and forth
It was a see-saw night for both sides, with both Creston and Harlan displaying the streakiness of each side.
In the first set, the Cyclones’ biggest lead was three points (5-2) until going on a tear in the back end of the set. Regaining the lead at 16-15, the Cyclones did not let up on their way to a 25-16 set win.
A 10-1 run to close out the game, helped partially by Jocelyn Cheek’s serve, gave Harlan a 1-0 lead.
The Panthers got back on track with a 4-0 start to Set 2, holding the lead until Harlan tied it up at 9-9. Creston regained the lead and pulled away.
A seven-point difference seemed to have the set wrapped up in Creston’s favor, but five consecutive points by Harlan on Jozopina Hendricks’ serve made it a three-point game at 21-18.
Three points was the closest Harlan got, again doing so at 24-21, but a Doryn Paup block capped the set at 25-21.
In the third set, Creston went up 6-1 and held control until Harlan evened it up at 9-9 again. The Panthers again pulled away in the back half, gaining the lead at 10-9 and not looking back.
An 8-2 stretch in favor of Creston gave the Panthers a 25-16 set victory, and a 2-1 lead on the game.
In Set 4, Harlan took a 5-1 lead and didn’t surrender the lead for the entirety of the set. The closest Creston had to evening the score was a one-point difference at 2-1.
The Panthers reeled Harlan in slightly as the Cyclones neared set point, but couldn’t get the difference closer than four in the 25-20 set loss.
In each set leading into the fifth, the first to five ended up winning the set, showing Haley’s importance of “first to five.”
“We start out first to five. We want to push it,” said Haley. “We like to play that fast, ... (Harlan) kind of slowed us down. They picked up a lot of stuff we were hoping would be put down. That’s hard. Can’t stall out in the next five points, have to keep that fast pace going.”
A bright spot from the evening was Bri Fields’ play, which ignited the rest of the team late in the contest.
“Last night wasn’t quite her night,” said Haley. “I think we talked about it last night where we come off that third set we play really well and bring it to tonight. They did that. ... She stepped her game up tonight. When she gets fired up, our team gets fired up and that’s what we needed.”
Bri Fields finished with 11 kills, a team-high. She also had three solo blocks, tying a team-high.
Ryli Abildtrup and Kelsey Fields finished with 10 kills each. Sam Dunphy had seven kills.
Kelsey Fields tied her sister’s high in blocks with three solo. Doryn Paup had two solo blocks.
Maddie Frey was a perfect 17 of 17 from serve with one ace, and led the team in digs with 10. Rylie Driskell and Halle Evans shared setting duties, tallying 18 and 11 assists.