They say home is where the heart is. If that’s the case, the Van Meter High School volleyball team did their heart good as they drew victory over conference foe West Central Valley in their final regular-season home contest of 2019.
The Bulldogs captured the win in three straight sets 25-9, 25-20, and 25-11. In front of the hometown fans on the night where the team shed light on cancer awareness, Van Meter volleyball delivered on their 20th win of the season. That in of itself is quite historical as it marks just the second time in program history that Bulldog volleyball has reached 20 wins in a single season.
“It was a great showing from these girls tonight and all that they have worked on seemed to come through tonight,” said first-year head coach Sara Cook. “They were just as strong mentally as they were physically and that was huge in the win.”
Right from the get-go, the Bulldogs were strong and on point, overcoming a 4-1 first set deficit. Behind the excellent serving from senior Natalie Barth, the Bulldogs climbed back and more to earn eight straight unanswered points and a 9-4 lead. Van Meter then went on to outscore the visiting Wildcats 16-5 for the 25-9 set one win. Those early serving points from Barth were instrumental in the set win and was certainly not lost on coach Cook.
“Natalie was big all night but set one was huge and she was fantastic serving the ball tonight,” began Cook. “That really helped us find our rhythm early and we just never looked back from there.”
Set two sort of went in reverse of set one and started with a 4-1 Van Meter advantage. It then turned into a set where the Bulldogs would have to come from behind which they sure did. Six times Van Meter faced a two-point deficit and six times the Bulldogs rose to match the Wildcats and tie up the score. That went on until the last seven points where Van Meter pulled away late to capture the set two victory 25-20. It was ultimately a set that highlighted the growth made by Van Meter volleyball as confirmed by coach Cook herself.
“We do a lot of mentally tough drills in practice and all of that work has shown itself in our matches over the last half of the season especially,” started Cook. “They’ve gathered more experience and have learned how to win with a lead and with a deficit. The growth since day one has been very fun to watch.”
That same mental toughness that coach Cook talked about really bled into the players themselves as highlighted by senior star Daelynn Coppinger.
“The mental strength especially for that second set was one of the biggest reasons why we won the set and ultimately won the match,” said Coppinger. “At the start of the season we started slow but thanks to this team getting more comfortable with each other and staying mentally strong, we’ve improved so much.”
Some could argue that the biggest highlight of the night was when the Bulldogs began set three with one of the fastest starts to a single set all season. That ultimately let to a commanding 25-11 set three win, and the overall match win.
Van Meter volleyball was also shedding light on cancer awareness with Kick Cancers’ Ace shirts and helping out a good cause.
“Everybody has had someone or knew someone who was affected by cancer so this is a special night for everybody,” said coach Cook. “It was great to see the student section come out so strong in support as well.”
The win gives Van Meter volleyball a 20-7 record, a far cry from the 1-4 start which began the 2019 campaign. That may officially have wrapped up the regular season home schedule but comes nowhere close to concluding the season for the Bulldogs. Van Meter wraps up the regular season in Granger on Thursday, Oct. 17. The Bulldogs will then turn around and kick off postseason play at home as they swap venues with Woodward-Granger on Monday, Oct. 28.