Experience helps DCG volleyball take down rival ADM on cancer awareness night

Andrew Brown
Dallas County News

In a battle that had a little more meaning behind it, the Dallas Center-Grimes volleyball team captured a victory over ADM Thursday, Sept. 10 in Grimes. 

It was the annual cancer awareness battle and through the use of experience, the newly minted Class 4A 15th-ranked Mustangs bumped up their record to 4-3 after besting the visiting Tigers in three sets. The crowd overall saw an exciting match-up that ended in three sets favoring the host Mustangs 25-8, 25-11 and 25-13. It's a battle that has become ingrained in both communities and nothing, not even the COVID-19 pandemic, was about to stop it from happening. 

"We love doing this and it allows the girls to play for something other than themselves. We had to consider getting rid of the DCG match but it means too much to both sides to give it up, we gave up some tournaments to make sure this happened," said ADM head volleyball coach Mary Beth Scott.

DCG volleyball celebrates after earning a point against ADM on Thursday, Sept. 10.

"We've been doing this since my kids were in school and it's always good to support those who have and currently do have cancer," DCG head coach Cheryl Voelker added.

As for the match itself, it was a matter of experience vs youth. The host Mustangs had the experience on their side with regulars such as Grace Mikota, Haylee Hidlebaugh, Isabelle Wood, Lexi Protzman and others who have not just experience but state tournament experience under their belts.

That showed up in full force Thursday, against a youthful ADM roster filled with eight underclassmen. DCG used that experience to keep an edge for the majority of the contest, suffering just a one-point deficit just once throughout all three sets. Set one started and ended in favor of the Mustangs. A 7-1 early advantage early blossomed into a 17-6 lead. With the help of an 8-2 run that followed, DCG claimed set one 25-8 on the heels of a strong serving finish by Lexi Protzman. Where the experience factor came in the most for DCG was in the times the Mustangs took advantage of ADM mistakes. 

"When you see those mistakes you have to take advantage and we did that," said senior star Grace Mikota, who produced a team-best 12 kills on the night. 

The second set had some back and forth with a 2-2 tie early. However, the Mustangs broke through that tie and outscored the Tigers 8-1 and never looked back. An 18-7 lead for the Mustangs quickly ballooned into a 25-11 set victory. ADM proved to be a tough competitor but DCG seemed to have every answer for anything the Tigers threw at them.

"We really hung in there and played our game and didn't go to their level, we kept that in our favor most of the match," stated Voelker. "Haylee and Lexi did a great job in the front row and Grace just sees the court well and is such a great communicator and that helped us keep up our tempo." 

Whether you were a fan of ADM or DCG you were treated to a solid serving match as the visiting Tigers went 28-of-32 from the serving line, highlighted by an impressive night from freshman Madison Siefken. 

Madison Siefken serves against DCG on Thursday, Sept. 10 in Grimes.

"Our serve-receive is a work in progress but they can make the most amazing plays sometimes," began Scott. "Our goal for Siefken was not to miss a serve. If you saw her serving two weeks ago it wasn't that great but she worked at it and she met that goal here tonight." 

Siefken did go eight-for-eight from the serving line on the night, one of five Tigers who were perfect from the serving line. Similar if not more success was had for DCG as well who missed on just five serves themselves, highlighted by Protzman who paced both teams with six aces on the night.  

"I thought the serving game was great tonight," said Mikota. "We always emphasize serving tough because that's the first offensive move and we did a good job of it tonight." 

Set three was the most competitive of the three sets in the match. It's where the Tigers earned their only lead of the game, striking first for a 1-0 advantage. The Mustangs then wiped out that lead with a 6-1 scoring run of their own. ADM quickly fought back several times, bringing the DCG lead within one 7-6 and 11-10.

Unfortunately for the Tigers, their offense just couldn't do much from there, producing just three more points while the Mustangs went on a 14-3 run, ending on five strong serves from Mikota. 

DCG senior Sydney Anderson dives for the ball on Thursday, Sept. 10 against ADM.

ADM did produce 10 kills in the loss while DCG doubled up that mark in the win. DCG bested ADM's 11-dig performance as well thanks in part to Sydney Anderson's seven digs throughout the match. Individually for the Tigers, junior Katie Cullen paced the way in kills with three while the assists leader went to Siefken with six. Fellow junior Campbell James led ADM with four digs while four blocks from sophomore Dani Person highlighted the Tigers' efforts as well. 

The win for the host Mustangs bumps their record up to 4-3 with more of the same on the horizon as they now look to continue their match winning streak. 

"Our serving has been spot on and our tempo has been up which has really helped us recently," said Voelker. 

Katie Cullen with a strike against DCG on Thursday, Sept. 10 during the cancer awareness match in Grimes.

For the ADM Tigers, despite a tough battle, their record drops to 1-10 on the season. While in a different boat, the path for the Tigers is still paved with intentions of winning, just with a few learning curves thrown in along the way.  

"It's a team effort and they're all in, it's a really great team but with our youth, we'll take our lumps along the way," said Scott. "It'll take some time. We're playing against very experienced teams but we'll turn the corner yet this season. As I tell the girls, it's not about where we are now, it's where we are in October." 

For the Mustangs, their next match-up will come on Tuesday, Sept. 15 as they travel to Indianola for a conference battle at 7:30 p.m. For the Tigers, their next outing will come on the road as well on Sept. 15, battling 11th-ranked Bondurant-Farrar at 7 p.m.