OTTUMWA — There are losses, and then there are losses.
The last two defeats suffered by the Indian Hills volleyball team are a classic example of that.
In a 25-17, 17-25, 25-11, 25-19 setback to No. 9 (DI) regional rival Iowa Western last week at the Tom Arnold Net Center, the Warriors showed even in defeat they could play with a national power. So even though they suffered the loss, IHCC took away plenty of positives moving forward with the volleyball season.
Then, on Tuesday, came a 25-21, 25-15, 25-20 setback to Southwestern on the same home court. Indian Hills went from going back and forth with a top-ten nationally ranked power to being swept by an unranked squad the Warriors were one game from sweeping on the road earlier this season.
There are losses, and then there are losses. And the difference really comes down to one key element. Intensity.
“Our intensity was high (last Wednesday) against Iowa Western. We took a game from them, so I know what we’re capable of,” Indian Hills sophomore liebro Kassidy Guihan said. “We came in and let (Southwestern) do whatever we wanted. It’s just a matter of execution. We didn’t execute very well.”
Indian Hills head coach Lyndsey Lyon, meanwhile, was left wondering how the same team that she saw execute so well last Wednesday against the Reivers could not do the same after a six-day break to prepare for Southwestern team that had rallied to beat the Warriors in five games earlier this year.
“To play the way we did against Iowa Western and not play well against Southwestern is disappointing,” Lyon said. “We had (Southwestern’s) respect coming into the match from what we did last Wednesday against Iowa Western, and then we come out here and can’t earn it.”
So what was the difference on Tuesday night? Play at the net seemed to be the biggest where things got decided by the end of the night as the Spartans had the top three attackers in the match and led the Warriors in blocks 12-10 by the end of the night.
Indian Hills had several opportunities to score up front, however. The Warriors committed 22 hitting errors out of 103 chances, allowing Southwestern to reel off several runs during the match that allowed the Spartans to pull away in all three games.
Both head coaches agreed one of the main reasons for the Warriors struggles at the net came from a limited amount of touches for sophomore Peyton Crosser. The Ottumwa native, who produced 14 kills on 24-28 hitting in the earlier matchup with Southwestern, was just 14-20 attacking with six kills on Tuesday.
“We struggled to get Peyton (Crosser) the ball. We need her get the ball more,” Lyon said. “I think our hitters were just out of it. There just wasn’t a lot of finish for us offensively and we couldn’t fight our way back in.”
“I was happy we were able to get the ball away from Peyton, because she is good,” Southwestern head coach Melissa Blessington added. “She really hurt us the first time we played. Our girls did a much better job of setting her in the middle this time.”
The Spartans and Warriors each had significant five-point runs during the opening game of the match with Southwestern turning an early 5-2 deficit into a 13-10 lead. IHCC rallied to go up a point before the second five-point run of the night for Southwestern gave them enough of a cushion to edge out Indian Hills in a tight 25-21 opener.
With the trio of Mel Mangrum, Jenna Casey and Shelby Sullivan combining for 23 Spartan kills, only three shy of IHCC’s match total of 26, the Warriors suddenly found themselves struggling to avoid falling into deep deficits early in games two and three. Southwestern looked similar to the team from just north of Creston, Council Bluffs-base Iowa Western, in keeping the Warriors behind on the scoreboard and off balance in its offensive attack.
“Our serving has been really good lately. Ashley Strong (who as 21-22 with five aces) has been serving really strong lately and that sets us up on offense,” Blessington said. “We had to move a lot of people around early this year. It took a little while to get things adjusted, but that early season comeback we had against Indian Hills really helped us make a much smoother transition during the year.”
While Southwestern seemed to smoothly move to 15-7 on the season, allowing just one more one-point lead and two more ties to the Warriors in the final two games of the match, Indian Hills continues to find things anything but smooth as they continue to adjust with youth and lineup changes. Once again on Tuesday, IHCC suffered through moments of flat play again at times and couldn’t seem to get into a rhythm until it was too late.
“We’re still growing and we’re still trying to put things together,” Guihan said after leading the Warriors with 14 digs in the match. “We just need to execute our offense and execute our defense. We’ve still got a lot of great matches coming up. We just need to put that ball down.”
IHCC (10-11) is back on the floor Friday at Iowa Central, who is 11-9 on the season, at 7 p.m. With another top tier program coming to the Net Center Monday in Missouri State-West Plains to face the Warriors, Lyon hopes less time between matches will help her team get into a winning flow.
“It’ll be nice having more matches coming up and not having as much time waiting for matches to come around,” Lyon said. We’re 10-11 right now. That’s disappointing for a lot of people, so we’re under a lot of pressure to turn that around.”
To follow Scott Jackson's Twitter feed, go to @stjack423
Indian Hills 21-15-20
Serving Leaders — Ashley Strong 21-22, Alex Duffy 14-14. Ace Leaders — Strong 5, Duffy 2.
Kill Leaders — Mel Mangrum 8, Jenna Casey 7, Shelby Sullivan 7, Allyson Kocour 6.
Setting Leaders — Cassidy Young 28.
Block Leaders — Mangrum 8, Kocour 2, Sullivan 2.
Dig Leaders — Molly Schimp 22, Janaya Fox 12, Young 12, Strong 11.
Aces — Peyton Crosser 2, Katie Soddy 2. Team — 4.
Hitting — Camila Araujo 22-26, Shelby Lauterbach 22-30, Crosser 14-20, Mirela Vasconcelos 11-13, Ramiah St. Fleur 7-8, Camila Luiza 3-4, Soddy 2-2. Team 81-103. Kills — Araujo 6, Crosser 6, Vasconcelos 6, Lauterbach 4, St. Fleur 3, Soddy. Team — 26.
Setting — Soddy 14, Kaylee Scholten 13, Kassidy Guihan 6, Crosser 2, Lauterbach 2, Vasconcelos 2, Araujo. Team — 40.
Blocks — Crosser 3, Araujo 2, Vasconcelos 2, Lauterbach, Soddy, St. Fluer. Team — 10.
Digs — Guihan 14, Lauterbach 12, Soddy 9, Araujo 7, Crosser 6, Scholten 6, Marlee Lindstrom 4, Vasconcelos 2, Morgan Gerbsch, Luiza. Team — 62.