By ROGER THOMAS
---- — ELDON – The Cardinal Comets took advantage of the inexperience of the Pioneers of Fairfield Maharishi by serving the ball strong and serving it in spots that made it hard to return. Cardinal swept MSAE 25-9, 25-4 and 25-8 in Southeast Iowa Superconference south division volleyball action Thursday night in Eldon.
The Comets piled up double figures in aces and only once in the match did a Comet server fail to score at least one point.
The Pioneers held their only lead of game one at 1-0. Dakota Durflinger’s kill at the net off an errant Pioneer pass gave the Comets a 2-1 lead. MSAE stayed within one at 4-3 after an ace by Flower Schreck. Four service points by Danae Moses, one an ace, put the Comets up 9-3. After Durflinger’s three-point service run, the Comet lead stretched to 13-4. During a five-point service run by Amy Hart, Leea Ostrander had three big hits for winners to put the Comets up 19-6.
“It’s taken all four years but I feel confident with my all-around game,” said Ostrander.
Ashley Hart served the Comets into a 23-8 lead and a Durflinger kill ended game one.
The Comets only missed three serves in game one, but would only miss two in the game-two win. Two big service runs by Ostrander and Durflinger highlighted the game.
Game two was the least competitive of the match as Ostrander put the inexperienced visitors in a 7-0 hole with the initial serves. She had two aces in the stretch. Durflinger had two early kills to go along with the Ostrander serves. Ostrander was hitting the ball hard and it just posed too many serve receive and passing problems for MSAE.
“I don’t always try and hit serves that hard,” said Ostrander. “Last game I missed one early, but (Thursday) when I hit a couple at the start, I felt comfortable.”
Durflinger added a 10-point run of serves to go along with her two early kills for a 21-3 Comet lead.
“We work a lot on serves, not just getting them in but causing some movement for the defense,” said Cardinal coach Jerald Harter. “(Thursday) we served really well.”
Amy Hart (two), Shelby Smith (one), and Cassidy McMartin (two) added kills in the dominant game-two win.
“We’re just very young and inexperienced. We’ve had to start at ground level to teach the game to some of our girls,” commented the MSAE coaching staff, headed up by Danielle Wallace. “We try and change our goals to fit our team, and sometimes we do that mid-match.”
The pattern of the match had already been determined and the final game played out to form. The Comets used six aces to dominate the serving. The Pioneers only had eight serve attempts in game three as a team. Durflinger had two kills as the Comets built an 11-3 lead.
“I try and have an attacking approach to the game regardless of the size of our opponents,” said Durflinger. “(Thursday) I tried to work on hitting outside the block.”
The Comet size and serving continued to be the dominant factors in the match as Cardinal finished out the sweep with the 25-8 game three win.
Ashley Hart helped to push the game to its end with a four point service run to make the score 23-7. Her run included three aces.
“Regardless of the game scores, we saw some improvement in a couple of areas,” said Harter. “Our setters did a good job of getting the ball to our hitters and they were all swinging to score.”
If the Comets want to move up to the top half, or third, of the SEISC south, the upcoming match could be pivotal. Cardinal (2-1, 1-1) will host New London Tuesday. MSAE (0-12, 0-4) is at Burlington-Notre Dame on Saturday.
Serving Leaders – Hifza Akbar 5/7, Shreck 1/5, Kadie Roberts 2/2, Amanda Valentine 2/3, Loreena Hansen 1/1, Jivani Rodriguez 2/2, Avery Travis 1/1, Phoebe Haerr 1/1. Team 15/22. Ace Leaders – Schreck. Team – 1.
Hitting Leaders – Roberts 2/5, Valentine 7/10, Schreck 4/9, Akbar 5/8, Anna-Theresa Unger 0/2, Travis 1/2, Rodriguez 1/2. Team – 20/38. Kill Leaders – Schreck. Team – 1.
Block Leaders – none. Team – none.
Serving Leaders – Ostrander 13/16, Moses 8/9, Durflinger 16/16, Amy Hart 12/13, Ashley Hart 8/9, McMartin 1/2, Schylar Conger 2/3, Smith 2/3, Katey Liles 1/2. Team – 63/73. Ace Leaders – Ostrander, Moses, Amy Hart, Ashley Hart 3, Conger. Team – 7.
Hitting Leaders – Conger 2/2, Durflinger 11/13, Smith 4/5, Amy Hart 9/9, McMartin 11/11, Ostrander 10/12, Ashley Hart 1/1. Team – 48/53. Kill Leaders – Conger, Durflinger 6, Smith 2, Amy Hart 4, McMartin 3, Ostrander 3. Team – 19.
Setting Leaders – Moses 9, Conger 3, Amy Hart 3. Team – 20.
Block Leaders – Smith. Team – 1.
Dig Leaders – Liles 7. Team – 15.