WEST DES MOINES - The Bobcats served better, but their serve receive was not quite where it needed to be.
The Marshalltown High School volleyball squad showed a marked improvement from its season opener at the service line, but it was not enough to get the Bobcats past an impressive West Des Moines Valley team. The Tigers (6-1) - ranked seventh in Class 5A - took care of MHS by scores of 25-17, 25-18, 25-13, on Tuesday night.
"Obviously Valley's a good team and it's a tough draw at the beginning of the season when you're replacing as many starters as we are," said Bobcat coach Terri Westendorf. "But there were some positives and we did some good things. We served very well and did a good job of taking them out of their offense, which was what our goal was.
"It feels good because that's something we had trouble with our last game and we fixed it."
Marshalltown served 44-for-49 with three aces against Valley, atoning for its season-opening woes (78-for-90, 1 ace) in a 3-1 loss to Pella Christian. Serve receive had its moments, Westendorf said, but was not the constant Marshalltown needed it to be against a powerhouse like Valley.
Lexie Jensen led the Tigers with eight kills, Sydney Pick had seven, Megan Cox added six and Hannah Lockin five. Valley was just 48-for-57 serving but logged nine aces. Cox had a double-double that included team-highs of 10 digs and 21 assists.
Sophomores Rachel Whaley, Leiah Paustian and Haley Vagjrt led MHS with six, five and five kills apiece, and senior Emily Rebik had four more. Marshalltown was only able to attack at a 5.8 percent efficiency rate as Valley's serving had the Bobcats scrambling to set up their offense as well.
Lindsay Ricken had 10 assists and Paustian seven, while Sharissa Stansberry's 18 digs were a team high. Rebik served 10-for-10, Whaley was 8-for-9 with an ace and Vajgrt was 8-for-10 with two aces.
"We've got a lot to learn in a short amount of time," Westendorf added. "I think that's the biggest thing is that the girls are going to find we're playing some incredible competition right away and they're going to learn lessons the hard way, but they've shown a great attitude and they're working hard.
"They just have to know that at some point, if they keep working hard, eventually they're going to get over the hump and things are going to start going their way."
The Bobcats (0-2) host an always star-studded field this weekend in the Pat Apgar Invitational, which begins at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Roundhouse. Iowa City West, Indianola, Waverly-Shell Rock and Charles City are all ranked and represent half the field, while South Hardin, Iowa Falls-Alden and Ottumwa go in unranked like the Bobcats.