It was a brand of volleyball that could only be described as state tournament worthy Tuesday night between the Van Meter and Panorama volleyball teams in Panora.
Both teams were seeking to continue their season as it was round one of Class 2A postseason play. Both teams traded blows back and forth but unfortunately for Van Meter, their season ended on the final two points of set number five to fall in five sets 3-2.
Van Meter fired the opening salvo by taking set one late 25-22 for the early lead. Neither team led by more than four points in the opening set and the Bulldogs had to recover from losing a 10-6 set one lead. After leading 20-19 late in set one, the Bulldogs pulled away with the help Emma Braun serves and an Abby Archer kill for the set one win. It was an opening worthy of many accolades and was very well liked by Bulldog head coach Ed Brogean.
“I told the girls before the match that they can win this one but that it all starts with a good start and they battled tough for a great opening set,” said Brogean. “A few things didn’t go our way but we executed well in that first set.”
It would turn out to be a back-and-forth contest with plenty of firepower on both sides. Set two fell in a completely different fashion for the Bulldogs who found themselves down 6-0 before scoring their first point of the second set. Ironically, after never having led by more than four points in set one, Van Meter could never come within four points of a Panorama lead in set two and would fall 25-11.
Right back at it where the Bulldogs in set three who stormed out of the gate to take a 5-3 set three lead. The Bulldogs strung together a 9-3 run to lead 14-8 which ballooned to a nine point lead late in the set, which then led to Abby Archer sealing the set with another kill to give Van Meter a two set-to-one lead. Unfortunately, that would be where the Bulldogs’ strong run started to fade. Set four started out with a 4-0 deficit early. Things just didn’t seem to be going the way of the big blue early, including a controversial call that would have tied up the set for both teams. The resilient Bulldogs came back on a 6-5 run to cut the Panther lead to a 13-10 mark midway through set four. An ever opportunistic Bulldog offense then turned that three point deficit into a tie game at 16 a piece after a strong two point serving swing once again by Abby Archer. Unfortunately from there, Panorama would go on a 9-7 run to claim the fourth set and force a decisive set five.
In that set five, Van Meter had flashbacks to set number two and this time, Van Meter witnessed a four point deficit right out of the gate. Three straight Panorama aces and a miscue on Van Meter put the Bulldogs down early 4-0. That forced a timeout call by coach Brogean who rallied the troops to get back into the game.
“During that timeout I said to the seniors that this could be the last time they’ll play volleyball together on a court,” began Brogean. “I told them they could either lay down and play tentative volleyball and lose or they could rally back strong. They really showed that they have a lot of drive as they proceeded to come out of the timeout strong.”
Come out strong they sure did with a 6-2 run to tie the set up at six a piece. That included strong serving from senior Lindsey Golwitzer and some very timely kills by junior Natalie Barth. From there, it would be the Panthers who prevailed late to take the match 3-2, effectively ending the 2018 season for Van Meter volleyball.
Playing conference teams in the postseason always seems to bring unique challenges and in Tuesday night’s contest, it was all about adjustments.
“Playing a team you’ve faced many times before, it’s all about adjustments and it showed that both teams used adjustments tonight,” began Brogean. “Panorama did a great job about moving around their mids which was very well done on their part.”
With the effective ending of their season, coach Brogean briefly talked about the season that was 2018 for Van Meter volleyball.
“Tonight’s game was very indicative of the season we’ve had so far,” started Brogean. “We’ve had some really strong points but then we turned around and had some big lapses. Regardless, we started on a low note but this team never threw in the towels and ended with a winning record which is hard to do in this conference, let along the state.”
Van Meter will officially end their season with a mark of 15-13 record, giving the Bulldog volleyball program their fourth straight winning season.