By ROGER THOMAS
---- — ELDON – The SEISC mid-season volleyball tournament split into four five-team pools. Each pool was hosted at a different site. After Thursday’s action, Winfield-Mount Union and Iowa Mennonite advanced to the championship bracket.
Site host school Cardinal joined Van Buren as each team advanced to the consolation bracket. The tournament will be held today at the Loren Walker Arena on the campus of Southeastern Community College in West Burlington on Saturday.
The atmosphere at Cardinal high school Thursday night was typical of tournament play. For much of the night, there wasn't a seat to be found and the crowds from each school were loud and supportive. That led to some really good volleyball action. The match most important to Courier area fans was the one between Cardinal and Van Buren. The Comets downed the Warriors 2-1 in the match that made the difference between the number three and four seeds. Van Buren opened the match with a 21-13 win in game one. The game was close until the midpoint when the Warriors took control. Two kills by Alicia Fitzsimmons helped the Warriors lead 13-8. She then helped Van Buren stretch the margin, with a four-point service run, to lead 18-10. Dakota Durflinger, who led the Comets’ opening-game attack, going 12-14, had a kill to keep Cardinal within 19-12. A perfectly placed shot that found the floor by Grace Thomas gave the Warriors a 20-13 lead. They closed out game one on the next serve. A close game two went to Cardinal 21-19. The Warriors led 4-3 when Leea Ostrander used a down line kill to tie it at four. The kill was the first point in a four-point run of serves by Schylar Conger for a 7-4 Comet lead. Van Buren had one more lead at 8-6. Cardinal built a 16-10 lead after Katey Liles finished off her streak of four serves. Van Buren fought back to tie game two again at 18. At the end of Aletha Wenke’s three serves, Nicole Coffin’s deep kill tied it. Amy Hart gave the Comets the win with a down line kill. Cardinal raced out to an 8-0 lead behind the serving of Danae Moses. Her run of eight service points included an ace. Coffin took the serve with her team trailing 8-1, but when she lost the serve, the Warriors were only down 8-7. “That was a chance for us to put them away,” said Cardinal Coach Jerald Harter. “We have struggled with maintaining a consistent level of play.”
The Warriors, who had only one kill in the third game but didn't miss a serve, fought back to tie it at 14.
“We do a pretty good job of serving and playing defense,” said Van Buren coach Matt Zeitler. “Offensively, though, we have too much trouble with the parts of the game that lead up to being able to hit.”
Ostrander’s back to back kills gave game three, and the match, to the Comets. In other Cardinal action from the tournament, the Comets also took one game from Winfield-Mount Union, who would go on to be earn the top seed in the tournament after the night of pool play was over.
After dropping the first game 21-12, Cardinal took game two 21-14 behind the serving of Ostrander and Liles as well as the play at the net that included two kills and three blocks. The Wolves bounced back to win the decisive third game, 15-8, in the match that ultimately cost Cardinal a chance to play for the SEISC Tournament title on Saturday. Cardinal downed Louisa-Muscatine 2-0. The Comets didn’t miss a serve in game one as they won 21-15. Amy Hart’s kill gave Cardinal a 4-3 lead and she would add a second later to lead the Comet hitting. The Comets easily took game two 21-8. Two big service runs led Cardinal to the win. Durflinger served six straight service points, including three aces, for an 8-1 lead. Shelby Smith added a string of six points on her serve with a pair of aces mixed in for an 18-6 lead. The Comets finished their play by dropping two to IMS. The 21-7 loss in game one saw Cardinal lose the serving and hitting battles. The Comets fell into a 3-0 hole and couldn’t work their way out. As in the first, IMS controlled the serving and the play at the net, to finish off the match with a game-two 21-14, handing Cardinal an even split in the tournament.
“A team needs to have positive numbers in aces vs. serve receiving errors and kills vs. hitting errors,” said Harter. “We struggled with those stats all night.”
Other Van Buren action on Thursday saw the Warriors lose 2-0 against IMS by the scores of 21-9 and 21-8. Van Buren also dropped both games against W-MU, losing 21-16 and 21-13. “We’re a young team and these two quality teams forced us into mistakes,” said Zeitler. “Volleyball is a game won by the team making the least mistakes.” Van Buren finished its night’s play with a two-game sweep of L-M. They won the first 21-19 and the second 21-12. In game one, a Coffin kill gave the Warriors a lead at 7-5. The game stayed close and was tied at 12 before Van Buren grabbed the lead for good on a winner by Fitzsimmons. Big hits by Coffin and Fitzsimmons closed out game one. The Warriors used good serving to control game two. Coffin had two aces and Courtney Hervey ran off eight straight service points, scoring one ace, to give Van Buren an 18-8 lead and all they needed to win game two and the match.
Van Buren heads to conference consolation play with a record of 6-10. Cardinal moves to today’s play with a record of 7-7. “It was really good to get to host part of the tournament,” said Harter. “It’s just disappointing that we struggle so much because we give away too many points with unforced errors.”
SEI SOUTHEAST CONFERENCE VOLLEYBALL TOURNAMENT
Tournament Standings: 1. Winfield-Mount Union (8-2); 2. Iowa Mennonite (7-2); 3. Cardinal (5-5); 4. Van Buren (3-6); 5. Louisa-Muscatine (0-8)
Tournament Scores: IMS 21-21, Van Buren 9-8; WMU 21-14-15; Cardinal 12-21-8; IMS 21-21, LM 9-10; Cardinal 13-21-16, Van Buren 21-19-14; Cardinal 21-21, LM 15-8; WMU 21-21, Van Buren 16-13; WMU 20-22-15, IMS 22-20-6; Van Buren 21-21, LM 19-12; IMS 21-21, Cardinal 7-14; WMU 21-21, LM 6-11.
Van Buren Tournament Statistics
Serving – Nicole Coffin 21/23, Alicia Fitzsimmons 19/20, Libby King 12/12, Althea Wenke 9/11, Hallie Whitten 5/6, Courtney Hervey 12/13, Grace Thomas 1/1, Jenna Thornburg 1/2. Team 80/88. Aces – Coffin 2, Fitzsimmons 2, Hervey. Team – 5.
Hitting – Fitzsimmons 24/25, Shayla Filson 11/16, Thomas 11/13, Thornburg 4/6, Coffin 18/21, King 6/7, Hervey 2/3. Team 76/91. Kills – Fitzsimmons 4, Filson 3, Thomas, Coffin 3, King. Team – 12.
Setting – King 24. Team – 24.
Blocks – none. Team – none.
Digs – Coffin 8. Team – 34.
Cardinal Tournament Statistics
Serving – Danae Moses 23/23, Katey Liles 23/25, Amy Hart 18/18, Schylar Conger 14/15, Cassidy McMartin 20/21, Leea Ostrander 15/20, Makynna Harrington 4/4, Shelby Smith 16/18, Dakota Durflinger 8/9. Team 141/153. Aces – Moses 2, Liles 5, Hart, Conger, McMartin 2, Ostrander 3, Smith 2, Durflinger 3. Team – 19.
Hitting – Amy Hart 48/62, McMartin 31/43, Conger 2/7, Ostrander 59/70, Durflinger 44/53, Liles 1/2, Smith 3/4, Moses 1/2. Team 189/243. Kills – Hart 8, McMartin 6, Ostrander 4, Durflinger 3. Team – 21.
Setting – Moses 30. Team – 50.
Blocks – McMartin 3, Conger 4, Durflinger 4, Smith 2. Team – 13.
Digs – Liles 28, Ostrander 23. Team – 96.