Last year the Jayettes only managed second to last place in their home tournament. On Thursday, Sept. 12 they completely flipped the script by finishing with a 4-1 record (8-4 total sets) to grab No. 2 out of six teams, snapping a two-game losing streak in the process. For Perry head coach John Fulton, it was a prove-it moment and a stark contrast to the team last year.

“It should help show them [they’ve improved],” Fulton said. “We lost to Earlham last year. Lost to Ogden. Lost to Panorama. All three of those teams last year. So we know that we’re slowly improving. We’re not there yet. But we’re better than we were at this stage last year and we still got a winning record.”

It wasn’t an easy ride for the Jayettes as they went into three sets with both Earlham and Ogden. Part of that success came via fresh confidence from junior Jasmine Shriver.

She had a season-high 25 attack attempts against Earlham to lead the team and had another 19 attempts against Ogden. Shriver said she can feel the improvements she’s made this season.

“Last year I was pretty much scared. I didn’t want to mess up,” Shriver added. “And then this year, I went to a lot of practices and a lot of games and stuff. And I’ve just learned through my mistakes to pretty much not be afraid anymore, to go after the ball.”

Shriver also showed up big against Ogden. After Ogden took the first match, Shriver’s nine successful serves combined with three kills helped push the Jayettes over the edge 21-15 followed by a 15-9 win to clinch the match.

“I was scared,” Shriver reflected about the Ogden matchup. “I really wanted it, like the whole team. We worked together and we pushed together and we’re a family together. Last year, I felt we weren’t so much of a family. And this year as upperclassmen, I feel like we’ve grown so much compared to last.”

Junior Kacy Nevitt was at the aid with 14 kills through the three sets while senior libero Magley Orellana returned from concussion protocol with 13 digs. While Orellana was out temporarily against Earlham, Fulton said the team relied on its middles to fill and was impressed with the poise Mary Ann Riesberg brought.

Fulton added that games like those against Ogden and Earlham help the team get back into a rhythm to hold the rest of the season.

“The girls know the type of team they are,” he said. “So just getting back to basics. Just getting back to what we do best. They need to learn to not let the last play dictate the outcome of the next.”

Despite the overall success that also downed Des Moines North by a combined 42-6 in the last set of the night, Fulton said he still expects more from the team as it couldn’t move past Coon Rapids-Bayard in the opening set.

As with the loss against ADM earlier in the week, Fulton said the team needs to continue improving its serve-receive and boost its serving percentage. The team had 33 aces across the five sets Thursday — a 29 percent increase of Perry’s normal rate — but he said there’s more concern about the team crossing the 90 percent serve rate in just one set all night.

“I’m not so concerned about the aces. They’re nice to cheer for and everything like that but I’d rather just put the ball in play,” Fulton said. “The aces don’t matter. To me, the serving percentage is where I want to get to, so we gotta do a little bit better.”

Overall with wins over Earlham, Ogden, Panorama, and Des Moines North, Perry improved to 6-3 on the season. Next up is a trip to Ballard on Tuesday, Sept. 17. A win over the 0-6 Bombers matches Perry’s win total from last season.