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Bulldog volleyball falls short in four-set showdown

Andrew Brown
Dallas County News

In the first competitive action of the week for Van Meter, the Bulldog volleyball team took to the road to battle conference foe ACGC on Monday, Sept. 14.

It was the 13th meeting between these two teams since the 2008 campaign and it was the host Chargers to walk away with the win in four sets. ACGC captured set one by a narrow 25-23 set one margin followed by Van Meter's only set win of the match, a 25-16 set two victory. The final two sets went to the Chargers, 25-16 and 25-13. 

Despite the final outcome, it was a close contest overall which began right away in set one. An early deficit put an ominous spin to begin the night with Van Meter finding themselves down 11-3 which turned into a 13-6 deficit. Then the Bulldogs began turning things around and brought themselves within two points (17-15). Van Meter even fought their way within one point late in that first set (24-23) largely with the help of a match-high 13 kills. However, a two point run by the Chargers sealed the deal for the set one win 25-23. 

Emma Braun with a diving stop Monday, Sept. 14 against ACGC in Guthrie Center.

Set two held a Van Meter advantage for the majority of the set. This time, Van Meter got out of the gates strong leading 11-7 to kick off the set. Both teams then traded five points each before the visiting Bulldogs went on a 9-4 run to  wrap up the set with a 25-16 win. 

"That was a strong set by the girls all working together," said head coach Sara Cook. "They knew it was going to be a tough battle and we they knew they would have to make some long strides." 

That set is where a lot of good things happened for the Bulldogs. In total, Van Meter claimed nine kills, the bulk of which went to Sidney Nelson. The senior ended up leading the way in kills overall for the Bulldogs, earning 11 on the night. Nelson also need up matching fellow senior Emma Braun for the most assists in the game with 14. Both combined for 28 of the 32 total assists in the match. Nelson ended up having quite the match and eventually led the team with 13.5 points produced on the night. 

Sidney Nelson with a kill attempt on Monday, Sept. 14 against ACGC in Guthrie Center.

The next two sets didn't fare as well for the Bulldogs. Set three went against the Bulldogs but it was anybody's contest most of the way. The Chargers may have 5-3 lead early but the Bulldogs brought things within one on three separate occasions 8-9, 10-11 and 11-12. That same momentum unfortunately did not hold for long as host ACGC went on an 11-4 run to wrap up the third set 25-16. 

The Bulldogs didn't help themselves out much to begin the fourth set, down 7-0 to kick things off. Even with that start, just as they had the prior three sets, the Bulldogs kept the set close as Van Meter stormed back to pull within two of the Chargers (6-8). Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, a 17-7 run the rest of the way kept Van Meter away from any lead, and thus the match, three sets to one. 

"We have high energy when we are there and keep it there," Cook said. "We're working on getting that right off of the bat and keep it steady the whole way out. We want to limit the errors over the course of play." 

Among more individual leaders, junior Sami McDonald led the way in blocks for the day, totaling 3.5 of the seven total for Van Meter. The Matt sisters of Norah and Abby Matt led the way in digs collecting 15 and 14 digs respectively in the contest. Serving-wise, Braun and junior Zoie Vaught tied for the team lead in aces with both striking two on the night. 

Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, they were unable to continue their latest winning streak of five games and now rest at 6-3. Their conference mark now rests at 2-2. With COVID-19 concerns, the scheduled battle against Ogden on Tuesday, Sept. 15 will be postponed, meaning the next competitive battle for the Bulldogs will come on Thursday, Sept. 19. The battle will be on the road against Class 3A's 14th-ranked Des Moines Christian Lions. 

Van Meter senior Norah Matt answers an ACGC serve Monday, Sept. 14 in Guthrie Center.