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Monarchs volleyball still humming along

September 27, 2018

David City Aquinas overcame a tough, scrappy opponent on Saturday at the David City Tournament and claimed its first tournament championship of the season with a perfect 3-0 mark on the day.

Aquinas took down East Butler in the opener in straight sets then followed it up with another straight-set winner over North Bend setting up a title match with Shelby-Rising City.

The Monarchs and Huskies split a pair of 25-20 scores in the first two sets before Aquinas overcame an early deficit then withheld a late S-RC charge for yet another 25-20 win.

“For the most part, we were solid. I was a little bit disappointed in a slow start against Shelby-Rising City, but they’ve certainly improved from the last time we played them,” Pelan said. “They’ve gotten their blocking game going and played good court defense. It was hard to terminate at first.”

The teams had previously met in David City on Sept. 6 in a 25-15, 17-25, 25-6, 25-17 Aquinas winner where the Monarchs held the Huskies to negative hitting and spread the offense around to seven different players with at least three kills.

Saturday was a similar display of that balance in a 25-17, 25-10 tournament-opening win over Yutan then a follow up 25-18, 25-14 win over North Bend.

“I think we have kind of found a groove,” Pelan said. “We talk about establishing a rhythm on the court and missing up things offensively. But we’ve not played a lot of the top teams. We’re starting to get into the difficult part of the schedule facing some conference rivals. That’s going to be a true test coming up here.”

Aquinas is in the midst of a seven-match win streak in which the Monarchs defeated Columbus Scotus for the first time in 30 years.

Though there was more than a week off after that victory, the momentum has continued during a period in which Aquinas has only lost three sets during those seven wins.

Still, Pelan is taking a wait and see approach with teams like Wahoo Neumann, Lincoln Lutheran and Grand Island Central Catholic still ahead over the next month.

“I know our girls are motivated to do well, they’re playing very well, as a team, our offense is extremely balanced, and that’s huge, but I also think they have the desire and the will to persevere. I don’t feel like we’ve laid down or given up in any set. We always continue to battle,” Pelan said. “I like that about the team. That’s going to be huge going forward.”

And Pelan says it’s a group that shares her sentiments.

The girls are pleased with an 11-2 record thus far, but by no means are they satisfied.

“You’re certainly pleased with a win no matter who it is. Winning the tournament was certainly our goal going in. Tuesday we talked about winning both matches at the triangular and we set the goal of winning on Saturday,” Pelan said. “But I also said we have to take one game at a time. They get it. They’re very even-keeled, don’t show a ton of emotion and don’t get too excited about anything. They know that going to Neumann on Thursday is going to be a true test to see where we’re at.”

Wins are wins though, and in the current streak victories are earned away from game day.

“It’s a very focused group. They come to practice ready to work. They just go from one drill to the next drill without a lot of down time. They certainly have bought in from the very beginning of the year,” Pelan said. “We know we need to be fundamentally sound. If we can do that and play good floor defense, then the defense always sparks the offense.

“Fundamentals every day and doing things correctly help everything else pretty much take care of itself.”

East Butler 1-2 in past week

East Butler volleyball played three times last week and lost two of three to drop to 7-12 on the season. Over the past 10 matches, theTigers have gone 4-6 with wins over Friend, Nebraska Lutheran, Osceola and Yutan.

The team had the weekend off and hasn’t played since Sept. 20 in a 1-1 triangular at David City Aquinas where East Butler lost to the hosts in straight sets and swept Friend.

The Tigers don’t return to the court until a home triangular on Oct. 2 with Osceola and Bruning-Davenport/Shickley coming to Brainard.

“It’s been a combination of the competition and not winning against opponents we should have beaten,” coach Karmen Widick said in comments sent to the Banner-Press. “We’ve also been dealing with injuries and illness but need to be able to play through that.”

With those lineup issues, East Butler has had to adjust to different rotations over the past two weeks and suffered through unforced hitting errors.

Jadyn Robley with 111 kills leads the team in that category and is the only Tiger hitting .100 or better. She’s also tops in aces with 35 and leads in assists with 179. Widick also pointed to Madison Helman as a player who’s had a recent surge since moving to outside hitter.

Helman is second to Robley with 97 kills, has put together 14 aces and is second to Addie Sullivan’s 94-dig total with 75 of her own.

“This is about where I expected to be – right around .500,” Widick said. “The competition in the Crossroads Conference is extremely tough night in and night out. We need to continue to focus on getting better every time we take the court and good things will happen for us.”

Scouts volleyball 1-2 at home invite

David City volleyball went 1-2 in its home tournament on Saturday and sits 6-9 on the season. The Scouts opened with a 25-21, 25-18 loss to eventual runners-up Shelby-Rising City, fell 25-10, 25-17 to Class C-2 No. 8 Twin River then defeated Yutan 25-7, 25-19 to wrap up the day.

Nate Tenopir is the sports editor of the Banner-Press. Reach him via email at DVDsports@lee.net

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