Almost any coach preaches the importance of teamwork but Chris Brees would like to see a little more selfishness from his Tigers.
Taking the Spartans down to the wire in all four sets, the Marshalltown Community College volleyball team lacked a closer to take over, dropping a 25-22, 21-25, 25-23, 25-20 decision to Southwestern Community College in ICCAC Division II play at home Wednesday.
"We had a chance to win every single game. We had a chance to put away (game 3) and we didn't. Right now we're at the point where we're playing competitively, but we're not finishing games," said Brees.
T-R PHOTO BY TYLER STRAND
MCC’s Sam Oujiri tips the ball over a pair of Southwestern defenders at the net Wednesday at the Student Activity Center. The Tigers were competitive in all four sets but only had one game to show for it in a 3-1 setback to the Spartans.
Tied at one game apiece, the Tigers (6-16, 1-3) appeared ready to put the Spartans on the ropes in the third set rattling off eight straight points for an early 8-2 advantage. Winners in 13 of its last 15 matches, Southwestern crept back into the set pulling within 13-11 on a kill from Lily Lower, though MCC again found some separation for a 19-14 lead. With a 2-1 lead seemingly within their grasp, the Tigers couldn't close as the Spartans seized the set with an 11-4 flourish to take the pivotal third game.
"We're not having anyone that's demanding the ball. We have some people that are performing well, but they don't want to put the ball on their shoulder and say 'give it to me'," said Brees.
"That's what we're lacking at this point in the season - that terminator. This week and last week we've had an opportunity (to win) in both conference matches."
The Spartans' terminator, Lower, was front and center in game four, tallying five kills in the final set to help Southwestern (17-7, 3-1) seal the deal. The Tigers led 5-3 in the early going before back-to-back kills from Lower sparked a 7-1 run from the Spartans. A spike from Mady Van Metre helped the Tigers cut the deficit to 15-13, but they couldn't draw any closer the rest of the way.
Neither team led by more than three in the opening set, before the Spartans grabbed a 24-20 lead late to take an early 1-0 lead. Racing to a 6-1 cushion, the Tigers led wire-to-wire in the second set. Trailing 21-14, Southwestern gave a scare with a 7-2 flurry before a kill from Katelyn Yauslin and an Alyssa Whitmore ace knotted the match at 1-1 to cap the second set.
Yauslin led the Tigers' attack with 15 kills, while Tanya Literski tallied 37 assists, two solo blocks and a pair of block assists. Ashley Salgado came up with 18 digs and four aces.
A couple players have provided a spark of late for MCC, though it's yet to catch fire and spread to the rest of the squad.
"Katelyn Yauslin has stepped up the second half of the season tremendously. Tonight Sam (Oujiri) played really well and had her best kill efficiency. Those two have picked up where some other people have let down a bit. Collectively as a team though, we all need to fuel from that and we're not," said Brees.
MCC has a chance to ignite that flame tomorrow against a similar style opponent in North Iowa Area Community College (7-13, 1-2), whom the Tigers dropped a 3-2 decision to on the road after leading 2-1 on Sept. 26.
"(NIACC) is a lot like (Southwestern). They make a lot of hitting errors, but we have to put the ball back to them and make them play more and more balls. There were some great rallies here where we got ourselves in position to put the ball away, but we didn't have the big swing that we're used to having in some of those rotations," said Brees.
While Brees would like to see his Tigers increase their aggressiveness in the clutch, he doesn't want them to forget their identity.
"Tomorrow, we have to stay disciplined in what we do - play good defense, dig a lot of balls and put the ball back. (NIACC) made a lot of hitting errors (in Mason City), but we didn't terminate when we had the opportunity. That's going to be the name of tomorrow," said Brees.