COLO - Royals coach Erin Murphy felt her offense would need to present a diverse attack and keep the Meskwaki defense guessing.
As it turned out, Colo-NESCO's service game was more than up to the task.
Claiming its third victory over the Warriors this season, the Royals (14-11) swept past Meskwaki Settlement 25-11, 25-8, 25-7 in a Class 1A Region 4 first round match Tuesday.
T-R PHOTO BY TYLER STRAND
Madison Farren comes up with a dig for Colo-NESCO in its 3-0 sweep over Meskwaki Settlement in Class 1A Region 4 play Tuesday at Colo.
T-R PHOTO BY TYLER STRAND
"(Meskwaki) is really scrappy on defense, so I told our girls that we needed to make sure we hit their holes, mix up our hits and not put the ball in the same place the entire night. We did a nice job of moving the ball around and the key was our serving," said Murphy.
Opening the set with a pair of aces from McKenna Farren and a kill from both Madison Eley and Caitlyn Riese, the Royals seized a 5-1 lead in the opening set. A trio of Colo-NESCO errors followed by a kill from Kadyn Clark helped the Warriors respond and knot the score at 5. A successful attack from Ryan Roberts gave Meskwaki (3-22) a 9-8 edge, but a strong service game from McKenna Farren and Eley helped the Royals rattle off six straight points and close the set on a 17-2 run.
"They clearly struggled with our top servers and that made a huge difference. We were able to get on a lot of runs that way," said Murphy.
Riese and Clark traded kills to open the second set as the squads were tied at 3-all early. Five Meskwaki errors, an ace and kill from Madison Farren and a spike from Madison Eley ignited a 15-0 flurry for the Royals. A Colo-NESCO net violation, an ace from Dia Keahna and a Royals' error pulled the Warriors within 18-6. Consecutive kills from Riese and Hannah Buseman sparked the home squad as Colo-NESCO closed with a 9-2 blitz.
A successful passing shot from Tiana Thompson gave the Warriors a 2-1 edge in the third set, but it was the final time Meskwaki would hold a lead. A flurry of errors and double hits swung momentum back in the Royals' favor as their strong serving game took over again. Another Eley kill and an ace from Madison Farren gave the home team a 12-5 advantage. Leading 14-7, the Colo-NESCO offense continued to keep the Warriors off balance as back-to-back kills from Riese and one from Eley helped the Royals claim the final 18 points of the set.
Missing just five serves as a team all night, McKenna Farren led the Royals with four aces. Caitlyn Riese led Colo-NESCO's offensive attack with six kills and Eley added four. McKenna Farren dished out nine assists.
Keahna and Clark paced the Warriors with three kills apiece, while Keahna also tallied an ace. Klyanna Pushetonequa led Meskwaki with two assists.
Fielding just two seniors on its roster, Meskawki has gone through its share of growing pains this season.
"We're a young team. We're playing two or three freshman at a time and so we're just building," said Warriors coach Robert Bachman. "We just have struggles on occasion with serving, hitting and setting; it's a combination of everything."
With seven freshmen and four sophomores on the squad, Bachman sees plenty of promise for his team moving forward. Roberts, a recent move-in and first year player, is one of several top returnees that the Warriors will rely on next year.
"The girls have gotten a lot of playing time and more experience. It will come along. They really love the game and I think they'll improve as time goes along," said Bachman.
The Royals advance to face top-ranked Grundy Center (30-6) at Grundy Center next Tuesday at 7 p.m.
While Murphy will need another strong service game from her team to compete with the Spartans, she reminded her squad that no team is invincible.
"We're really going to have to step up our game. We'll have to pass the ball well and serve like we did tonight to have a chance against Grundy Center. But like I told the girls, anything can happen. They're just like you - they're high school girls. Anything can happen on any given night, you just have to play well," said Murphy.