The time has finally come and the path to a potential second straight state tournament appearance will soon be underway for the Dallas Center-Grimes volleyball team.
With a second straight 30 plus win season, the Class 4A ninth-ranked Fillies have been given a first-round bye and will officially be taking on their postseason opener against Ballard. The Fillies have taken the last two meetings between the two teams and are looking for a similar outcome this time around.
While favor has sided with the Fillies over the past five seasons with 15 set wins compared to seven for Ballard, DC-G knows that it will take another strong outing to advance. When it comes to a strong outing in the postseason teams often try to break out something new or change things up. As noted by Fillie head coach Cheryl Voelker, it’s quite the opposite for DC-G.
“The big thing for us is to continue to play our game and not get thrown off,” began Voelker. “When we have faltered it’s been because we’ve wavered from playing our game. We need to focus on tempo blocking and not getting behind the block defensively. If we do that then we have a great chance at winning.”
The Fillies will head into the match tenth in Class 4A in kills (956), 13th in aces (183), ninth in assists (895), and 15th in digs (1,387). En route to earning those numbers, the Fillies have constantly answered any questions thrown their way. Questions like how they would handle the loss of Tiffany Denger and Abby Greiman and other top stars from a year prior. The Fillies have once again touched up 30 wins and as noted by junior Grace Mikota, it’s been a simple change that has produced a potentially better defense.
“This year our defense might just be the best we’ve had in a long time,” began Mikota. “We are a really quick team but what really sets us apart is how we use that quickness. We have a lot of girls on this team who have played the sport for so long like Katelyn and Kamryn and we know how to put ourselves in the right positions.”
That is one of the many reasons that has allowed the Fillies to hardly miss a beat this season, posting up numbers very similar to their state-bound efforts a year ago. Another big reason has been the emergence of players like Mikota herself who has produced 249 kills and 31 aces, both second-best only to senior Katelyn Knudsen. Another individual who has made a big impact has Ashley Ferguson. The senior had to follow up on the career of Dakota Miles who set herself in the DC-G record books in career digs last season. Many wondered what the libero position would be like for the Fillies but thanks to Ferguson, not much has changed. She has 257 digs so far on the season and continues to dig back into past conversations and teaching moments she has had with Dakota Miles, the now DMACC star.
“I really looked up to Dakota and have worked hard on emulating what she was able to do and how she was able to do it,” said Ferguson. “She taught me a lot and I have taken all of that and made the most of it.”
Making the most out of sticky situations has been quite the specialty for DC-G, especially in the absence of Ferguson due to an ankle injury. For three weeks, the Fillies were without their main libero but for three weeks, they saw depth at that position strengthen dramatically. Out of the injury to Ferguson, individuals like Isabelle Wood have risen up and kept up the winning tradition of DC-G volleyball, something that has pleased both players and coaches alike.
“To see these girls set up and take on the challenge really goes along with our motto of never settle and no matter who’s on the court, we still never settle for anything less than winning,” said Mikota.
Ultimately, it was quite the road back for Ferguson that included learning how to get back into the game it’self.
“After being off my ankle for three weeks, it’s been a little challenging getting back to where I was before,” stated Ferguson. “I worked a lot with our trainer on movements with bands and other things to help strengthen my ankle. We’ve also done a lot to get the ankle used to going at a quick tempo. I feel now like I’m getting back to full strength and I’ll be ready for Ballard.”
All that the Fillies have accomplished during the regular season comes down to this game, one that should they win, they would move on to face the winner of Waverly-Shell Rock and Webster City. As for the opponent in front of them, their battle with Ballard will begin Tuesday, Oct. 29 at 7 p.m. from Meadows Gym in Grimes.