The Bobcats had trouble overcoming a few controversial calls Tuesday night. That, and a strong game at the net by rival Ames allowed the Little Cyclones to put a damper on Bobcat Senior Night at the Roundhouse.
Ames got a strong performance from Bailee Jackson and Leah Smith and headed back home with a 25-16, 24-26, 25-19, 25-11 Central Iowa Conference Northern Division victory.
"We have talked about it all year. We have to control what we can control and we can't control the officials," MHS coach Terri Westendorf said. "We did plenty of things ourselves that we needed to control. Three outs in the first three hits over, you just can't do that and keep any rhythm in the game."
T-R PHOTO BY TROY HYDE
Marshalltown senior Sharissa Stansberry had 22 digs in the four-game loss to rival Ames on Tuesday night at the Roundhouse. The loss drops the Bobcats to 1-1 in Central Iowa Conference Northern Division play.
Rachel Whaley had 13 kills and 11 digs and Lindsey Ricken also had a double-double with 14 assists and 10 digs in her final home match, but it wasn't enough.
Ames (20-13, 2-0 in CIC Northern Division play) has now won two straight and five of its last seven, while Marshalltown dropped its fourth match in five tries and has lost eight of its last 11.
"We attacked the ball, but we started hitting into the block and didn't adjust our attack very well," Westendorf said. "We were trying, but we just didn't get it done tonight."
The Bobcats came out on fire in the opening set and built a 9-4 lead thanks to a pair of kills from Whaley.
The Little Cyclones though rallied with four straight points and eventually knotted things up at 10-all. They kept the momentum in their favor and used a Jackson kill to go up 18-12. Jackson added three more points in the game as Ames went on to win by nine.
The Bobcats had another lead in game two. This time, sophomore Haley Vajgrt came through with two kills to put MHS (10-18, 1-1) up 9-5. Vajgrt had three kills and two blocks in the loss.
The Little Cyclones once again tied up the game at 10-all and it was back and forth from there. There was a total of 13 ties in the frame, but Marshalltown created some separation thanks to two Whaley kills and two Ames errors.
Jackson had a kill and Phaedra Lipsey scored a kill and a block to make it 24-23, but the Bobcats wound up winning as Ames committed two errors on the final two points.
"I am really proud of the girls," Westendorf said. "We came together as a team in game two. We controlled that game."
The third game also was nip-and-tuck for a while.
Ames began with two straight points but 11 ties would follow until the Little Cyclones took control behind Jackson and a pair of net violations. The visitors eventually scored five of the final six points to take a 2-1 lead in the match.
Trailing 5-0 to start the fourth game, the Bobcats felt even more frustration when a few close calls didn't go their way. MHS was never really in the frame after the slow start and eight straight points gave the Little Cyclones a 23-8 lead. Two aces from Haley Meyers and two kills from Smith highlighted the run.
Leiah Paustian's kill and an Ames error ended the run, but the Little Cyclones finished off the win with a Hannah Greenlee block and a Bobcat net violation.
"Our serve receive in the latter part of the game was starting to get a little rough," Westendorf said. "By then, it was probably the frustration getting to us."
Westendorf felt like the unfortunate calls affected her team's morale. She hopes to use that as a learning experience moving forward though.
"We just have to let go of the things that don't go our way," Westendorf said. "If you let those things seep over on your side, it will hurt you.
"That is a growing point for us. We can learn from that. We need to be better for it."
Paustian finished with seven kills, 12 digs and two blocks and was 16-of-18 in serving with one ace. Whaley was 10-of-11 in serves, and senior Emily Rebik was 11-for-12 with four kills and three blocks. Sharissa Stansberry led the Bobcats with 22 digs, while Amanda Hughes also had 12 assists.
The Bobcats next play at 8:30 a.m. Saturday in the Johnston Invitational. MHS also travels to CIC Northern Division rival Mason City on Tuesday. ... The Bobcat seniors were recognized prior to the match. That group includes Rebik, Stansberry, Hughes, Ricken, Kali Banks, Jordyn Simbides, Emily Murtha, Brooklyn Amundson, Taylor Vaudt and Sam Smith.