South Tama's volleyball team used momentum from an exciting first set and a comeback in the second set to quickly dispose of East Marshall at home Tuesday evening.
Clutch plays during the end of the first set provided the start to the night. However, the Trojans needed a rally in the second set and came up with a big one to break the Mustangs. With the ball rolling, the Trojans crushed the Mustangs in the final set.
STC's victory was the first time all season that it beat a team in three-consecutive sets in a best-of-five match. It was the Trojans' first sweep of a regular match.
South Tama senior Jade Rohach elevates over everyone as she spikes a ball to the ground Tuesday night during a home match against East Marshall. Rohach and junior Trisha Walz led the Trojans in kills as they swept the Mustangs in three sets.
"It was fun, because it was the first one we ended in three sets," senior Jade Rohach said. "It felt good."
Junior Trisha Walz agreed.
"It was nice to get it done in three sets," Walz said. "We had a lot of fun. Teamwork and communication really helped us tonight."
South Tama began the match a bit slow, which has been typical for this year's squad. STC trailed 4-1 early and continued to trail until a kill from Walz tied the score 9-9. From that point on, STC narrowly led the Mustangs throughout most of the set.
East Marshall scored back-to-back points, tying the game at 23-23. A powerful kill from Rohach gave STC a quick lead, but a serve out of bounds tied the game at 24-24. Rohach's errant serve was one of XX for the Trojans during the set. East Marshall scored another point, giving itself game point with the serve. However, the Trojans tied the set with a kill. A kill from junior Paige Van Dyk and a Rohach block ended the set, with STC winning 27-25.
"We're competitors and we always want to get the win," Walz said. "We came through in the end and got the win. It felt good to finish it and win a long set."
The Trojans' coach was quite happy to see her team fight hard during the waning points of the opening set.
"It's always nice to see that they didn't get bothered too much when they down late in that set," Bradley said of the opening set. "I almost felt as if they didn't know what the score was, but that's just what I thought. I think they did, but it just seemed like we didn't at the time."
However, when asked if her team can drop its intensity and become complacent when leading, Bradley agreed.
"Yes they do," Bradley said. "They definitely do. I would agree 100 percent with that."
Momentum gained from winning the first set was quickly lost in the second set. A fast 0-2 deficit turned into a 7-1 deficit and a timeout called by Bradley. Following the timeout, the Trojans regained their composure and began to rally.
"A couple of them made the comment in the huddle, 'Let's play like we did on Saturday against Union,'" Bradley said. "They know if they're on fire or if they are just trying to dig deep to get a spark of something."
A Van Dyk kill sparked a South Tama three-point rally. STC remained close but trailed 11-7 before it went on a run to tie the set. Junior Samantha Holtz had a kill that started it. Walz and Holtz blocked the Mustangs, junior Madison Baack served an ace and the Mustangs had three errors that helped the Trojans take a 13-12 lead.
East Marshall tied the set at 14-14 before South Tama outscored them 11-4 during the remainder of the set. During the last 11 points, Van Dyk had two kills and an ace, Walz an ace, Rohach a kill and ace and Holtz finished the set with a kill. STC won the set 25-18.
"Tonight, I felt like we were more scrappy than we've ever been," Rohach said. "It was fun."
South Tama wasted no time in putting East Marshall down and out in the third set. STC led 4-0 behind three kills from Walz. She added another, while Rohach recorded a kill and block as STC built its lead to 9-3.
"We talked about how need to improve our passing and serving," Rohach said. "We needed to get the ball over the net, because that's what was really hurting us during the first and second sets."
The Trojans' lead remained around four points, until midway through the set. Their 15-11 advantage soon became the closest the Mustangs would get.
"I think we finally came alive in the third set," Bradley said. "I thought we played well. Everybody was hitting very well. All across the board, we swung well and got some kills."
Walz finished out the set serving the final 10 points. She had two aces during those points, while Rohach and Van Dyk had kills to help her. STC won the set 25-11, thus winning the match in straight sets.
"When we start hitting well and clicking, we get up and ready to be done with it," Walz said. "We just have to do that more often."
Coach Bradley was smiling after the match. Her team won its first three-set match of the season and it quickly beat a team that it defeated on Saturday at its home tournament.
"We got the win and the girls played well," Bradley said. "I'm pretty pleased tonight. We had some nice kills and our serving was better. We struggled a bit early on, but our serving was a lot better throughout the match. We didn't tip as much, so we played that aggressive ball that I talk about 24/7 in practice.
"As long as we stay aggressive and if they can keep that mindset all the time, we'll be good," she said. "If we can avoid dwelling on a bad serve or hitting it out of bounds and focus on moving to the next point, we will win matches."
On Saturday, South Tama finished its home tournament 2-2. STC beat Saydel 21-18 and 21-17 to start the morning. Then the Trojans ran into Sumner-Fredericksburg, who went on to win the championship, and lost 21-15 and 21-14. In their final pool play, the Trojans beat East Marshall 21-17 and 21-9.
"I think it gave us some confidence heading into the night," Rohach said of Tuesday night after beating East Marshall on Saturday. "We may have overlooked them a bit in the beginning, because of that."
In the semifinals, South Tama faced off with Union, who narrowly beat the Trojans at home earlier in the season. STC won the first set 31-29, but struggled in the second set and lost 25-16. The final set was neck-and-neck but Union won 23-21.
The Trojans did lose senior Shelby Bradley to an ankle injury Saturday. During warm-ups before the first match, an errant ball rolled under her feet. She rolled her ankle and is out for a while.
"We are trying to win for her," Walz said S. Bradley . "We want her to be proud of us."
South Tama will head to Prairie (Cedar Rapids) for a tournament Saturday. It will start at 9 a.m. The Trojans play at BCLUW on Tuesday. It will be a normal match.