STC strolls past East Marshall

South Tama County’s Gracie Vest, center, goes up for the attack during Monday’s non-conference volleyball match in Tama. Vest had a match-high 14 kills as the Trojans swept the Mustangs. Allison Graham/News Chronicle

TAMA — It was as close to a perfect night for South Tama County volleyball as it could be Monday night, as the Trojans (3-2) rode a fast start to a 3-0 sweep of the East Marshall Mustangs (1-1) at home in front of a mask-wearing crowd.

The Trojans won set one 25-9 and set the tone for the night right off the bat. Errors from East Marshall exacerbated the problems the Mustangs had been dealing with South Tama, head coach Terri Westendorf said.

“Too many errors on our part, and you can’t pinpoint one player or one position or one thing,” Westendorf said. “We just could not get it rolling in the same direction at the same time.”

The Mustangs had 17 kill errors compared to five kills in the game, underscoring the issues they had following up a convincing victory against Baxter in their season-opener. Westendorf said it was a weird game all-around and that the Mustangs never got in control of proceedings like they were against the Bolts.

For South Tama coach Samantha Cantonwine, though, it was the opposite: a perfect start to the home season.

Seven seniors were honored for Senior Night at a volleyball match Monday including Alexis Babinat, Alexis Meek, Gwen Upah, Ashlynn Ellenbecker, Shelby Slaven, Morgan Haughey and Chloee Kirklin. Allison Graham/News Chronicle

“It’s good to see, especially in our first home game,” Cantonwine said. “You have home game jitters, so it’s really good to see that they’re able to get those away so we’re ready to play.”

The Trojans went down early in the second set, but when more Mustang mistakes reared their heads South Tama capitalized to run away with a 2-0 lead 25-15. The third set turned into a formality early on when the Trojans jumped out to a 15-4 lead, with the crowd swelling and East Marshall frustrated. Some service errors and a fightback from the Mustangs made the final set the closest of the night, but it was still a 25-16 closeout for the Trojans.

Gracie Vest led a consistent South Tama offense with 14 kills on the night. Shelby Slaven followed up with five, Ashlynn Ellenbecker had four and Gwen Upah put three kills down. STC had 11 aces as well, led by Ellenbecker’s five. Vest and Upah had two apiece while Bre Riha and Lauren Veit had one each. The Trojans committed just five service errors.

Taking advantage of East Marshall’s hiccups was key, Cantonwine said.

“Sometimes our defense got slow and sloppy,” Cantonwine said. “If they didn’t have those unforced errors, we would have had to play a lot better defense. Even though they had those unforced errors, it’s important to keep attacking at them.”

Cantonwine was impressed by the team’s ability to keep momentum and stay in rhythm

In comparison, the Mustangs had only three aces all night — one each from J.J. Westendorf, Camy Weeks and Emma Pfantz — and only one player had more than one kill (senior Clare Veren had three).

Defensively, both teams were active — East Marshall had 47 digs, led by J.J. Westendorf’s 14 and nine from Jane Collum. Camy Weeks got seven digs, Kennedy Wheater had four and Faith Bandstra had three. Four Mustangs had two digs — Jayleigh Pansegrau, Veren, Noelia Aguilera and Lizzy Vesely — and Avery Moore joined Pfantz with one dig.

South Tama had 53 digs as a team and Ellenebecker led the way with 10. Aleix Meeks had nine digs, Riha and Vest had eight each and Laurel Upah, Gwen Upah and Veit got six digs.

For the Trojans, they take a win into a game against Clear Creek-Amana Thursday morning at home.