When the Bobcats needed a point Tuesday night, No. 8 Southeast Polk was there to deny them.
Those denials by the Rams ended up being too much for Marshalltown to handle as the Bobcats came up short in five games. Southeast Polk delivered the knockout punch in the fifth game and beat Marshalltown 22-25, 25-19, 25-17, 23-25, 15-10.
"We had some great moments in the match and the energy was great," MHS coach Terri Westendorf said. "But there are a few moments we would like to have back. We struggle still when the pressure is on."
T-R PHOTO BY TROY HYDE
Marshalltown High School middle hitter Miranda Smith, left, sends an attack at the double block at the net by Southeast Polk during Tuesday’s match at the Roundhouse. The Class 5A No. 8-ranked Rams escaped with a five-set victory, prevailing 22-25, 25-19, 25-17, 23-25, 15-10.
The Bobcats may have played their best volleyball match of the season against a top-10 ranked team in Class 5A.
But Westendorf still wasn't comfortable even after a win in the opening set.
"There was no part of me that was confident after that first game," Westendorf said. "They are too good. I felt good because we were were playing hard, but I was not comfortable."
The fifth and final game of the night brought some controversy to the forefront. The Bobcats hung in there in the fifth game and trailed 5-4 early. The Rams jumped up by three on two different points and then when senior Lauren Mazour scored a kill at the net that was eventually called off, the Bobcats lost momentum. Another point that went against Marshalltown came a few points later when Southeast Polk appeared to hit the ball out of bounds, but the officials said it was touched by a Bobcat.
That last controversial point made it 12-8 Rams and the Bobcats never recovered as the Rams scored the final three points and took the game 15-10.
"It's always a momentum killer, and you can't not let it get to you, but you can't blame the officials," Westendorf said. "We did other things wrong tonight that led to this loss. At some point, we have to win these games ourselves and not let the officials do it. But it breaks your heart."
The first game was nip and tuck as neither squad led by more than four points. MHS grabbed an early three-point advantage after back-to-back net violations and then a Morgan Bellile kill a few points later made it 16-12 and triggered a Ram timeout.
Southeast Polk rallied to 21-20, but Marshalltown managed to hang on scoring four of the final six points.
The Rams were in control of Games 2 and 3. The Bobcats only leads in the second game came within the first seven points. The Rams led by as many as seven before winning by six.
It was much of the same in the third game as Southeast Polk grabbed an early lead and never looked back. The first MHS timeout came when the Rams went 12-6 and then another timeout was called at 21-13. Marshalltown failed to grab any kind of momentum in the set though as the Rams won 25-17.
The Bobcats won another back-and-forth affair in Game 4 to even the match and send it to a final set.
A kill by Eisha Oden made it 3-1 early, but the game was tied at 3, 4, 5 and 6 before the Rams forced MHS into another timeout when they took a 12-8 lead. The Bobcats continued to fight though, and eventually drew a 15-all tie after an ace by Miranda Smith.
After that, the Bobcats managed to gain momentum. Oden delivered a kill to give the Bobcats the lead and a kill by Madi Bellile along with an error by the Rams pushed the game to another tie.
Smith came through in the closing points with a block and a kill, and the Bobcats pulled off the win by two points.
"There going the direction we want them to go," Westendorf said. "We just can't let these dings to our record get us down. This is a tough schedule that we are playing."
The Bobcats dropped to 6-7 after the loss, but Westendorf said the team is much better than that record indicates.
"We have some things to fix, but the record does not tell the story of how good these girls are," she said.
Oden led the Bobcats with 13 kills, while Mazour had 12, Smith 11 and Morgan Bellile 10. Morgan Bellile also led the team in digs with 19 and had three blocks, Madi Bellile had a team-high 42 assists and Smith turned in six blocks.
Madi Bellile was 20-of-21 in serving with one ace. Mazour was 19-for-19 and Megan Major was 18-of-19 in serving. Smith and Mazour also had one ace serve apiece.
The junior varsity won in three games over Southeast Polk, 25-15, 19-25, 15-8, while the sophomores lost in three with Southeast Polk winning 25-21, 13-25, 15-9. The Marshalltown freshmen teams went 1-1 against the Bobcats. The Marshalltown 'A' squad won in straight sets 25-12, 25-17 and the 'B' squad lost in three games. The Rams won 20-25, 25-18, 18-16.