Opportunity, a simple word but with massive impact. That was the driving force behind the 3-0 shutout post-season victory for the Dallas Center-Grimes volleyball team Tuesday night.
In front of the hometown crowd, the Fillies rode away with their postseason opener capturing set one 25-15, set two 25-11, and set three 25-15 over visiting Ballard. DC-G did a lot of things right, so much so that it didn’t leave Ballard head coach Morgan Bennett and her team with much.
“DC-G is a really good team and it starts from the serving line,” said Bennett. “They were really strong and tough to defend tonight.”
With that simple word “opportunity” written on everyone’s wrist, the Fillies were near dominant on both sides of the ball, facing no more than a one-point deficit merely twice all night. The Fillies combined for well over 30 kills on the night while besting their digs and assists averages on the night as well. A big part of that was the 20 kill performance from senior Katelyn Knudsen which marked one of her best marks of the season.
The first of two deficits Dallas Center-Grimes faced happened right away as a strong serve by Ballard put them down 1-0 to start set one. Then the Fillie offense came through and quickly outscored the visiting Bombers 6-3 for a 6-4 lead. That then turned into a 14-8 lead which in turn morphed into a 21-12 advantage for the Fillies. DC-G finished off the initial set to capture a strong start 25-15. Right from the get-go, it was evident that the Fillies wanted to own the serving line with their strong attack and it worked perfectly to plan.
“Serve/receive has been a big focus of ours throughout this season,” began senior star, Kamryn O’Brien. “We’ve been much cleaner since the start of the season and we were pretty clean here tonight for the most part.”
Such comments were echoed by a very pleased DC-G head coach Cheryl Voelker.
“Our serve/receive was on tonight and our girls played with a lot of focus,” began Voelker. “Very pleased with how they performed especially in that aspect tonight.”
Ultimately one could argue that Ballard managed just 11 first-set points as the final four for the Bombers came on errant serves by the Fillies.
The momentum from set one easily carried over into set two where an early 1-1 tie was quickly erased by nine unanswered points by the Fillies with Isabelle Wood at the serving helm. From that 9-2 lead came a 15-5 advantage for the Fillies and with the help of a 10-6 advantage over the last 16 points, DC-G took a commanding two sets to none lead. Set three came and went in a similar fashion to set one, but not without its challenges. That’s where “opportunity” really kicked in for the Fillie volleyball stars.
“They did make some strong comeback attempts in that third set but whenever that happened we all just looked down at the word opportunity and said we have the opportunity to give it our all,” began O’Brien. “The other thing is that we have the opportunity to never let them get ahead and we were very strong with that tonight.”
O’Brien was perhaps the best person to describe their word of the day because she herself has made the most out of her opportunities. Following the official conclusion of the match, the senior officially notched 1,000 career assists. It’s an amazing feat for even the most skilled high school stars but not only did O’Brien make that mark, but she also did it in just two varsity seasons. Even that alone can’t give O’Brien enough justice as coach Voelker further went on to explain.
“It’s even more amazing because of the fact that we run a 6-2 offense,” started Voelker. “She’s not out on the court for all six rotations so to hit that record is even more amazing.”
That helped the Fillies as a team to weather the storm put forth by Ballard in set three. The youthful Bombers stormed back to tie the game twice throughout the set, presenting the toughest set of the night for the Fillies. Regardless the Fillies pulled through and wrapped up their victory with a 25-15 set three win. Along with O’Brien and Knudsen’s highlighted performances, Isabelle Wood and Grace Mikota each tallied over ten digs
Overall the Fillies captured their 31st win of the season, officially giving them the right to advance in postseason play. They will now have to travel to Waverly-Shell Rock where they will battle for the Class 4A Region 3 crown and the right to move on to state Nov. 4 beginning at 7 p.m.