SIGOURNEY – The night started with the Sigourney volleyball team riding an emotional high, celebrating the career of six senior players.
The night ended, however, the same way every other South Iowa Cedar League match has ended this season for the Montezuma Bravettes. Shanae Wetering collected a match-leading 14 kills on 23-29 hitting, pacing a 40-18 edge in offensive points won by Montezuma in a 25-21, 25-18, 25-13 sweep of the Savages on Monday, improving to 6-0 in league play.
"It feels like we start off slow in every match, but as the match goes on we get warmed up and go off from there," Wetering said. "We are playing smart. We play together. We're always communicating."
Montezuma improved to 7-0 in SICL play on Tuesday, again winning a tough match on the road by taking down North Mahaska in four sets. The Bravettes kept their hopes of a perfect run to a league title alive with a 27-25, 25-16, 19-25, 27-25 win over the Warhawks, overcoming two tough teams playing on their respective home courts quieting both home fans.
"You could definitely tell they (Sigourney) were fired up for (Monday's) match," Wettering said. "The student section was really loud. We just have to continue to learn to block that stuff out and focus on each other. We need to continue to focus on what we need to work on in the moment and focus on each play."
Montezuma found focus late in the opening set of each match, erasing a late 21-19 deficit on Monday at Sigourney before scoring the final two points on Tuesday against the Warhawks to pick up an important opening game. Kallie Robison teamed with Katie Reynolds on a tiebreaking block late in the first set against Sigourney before securing a kill following a timeout, giving the Bravettes a 23-21 lead in the opening game against the Savages.
"Montezuma is just a solid club all the way around," Sigourney head volleyball coach Steven Sattz said. "They had a great setter (Reynolds) and they've got two or three options in attackers. We tried to adjust our game plan a little bit to put a little more pressure on them and not give up as many easy free balls.
"At the end of the day, it's a game of runs. They had some good, solid runs at the end of the sets that propelled them."
Montezuma (13-7) gradually started to take command at the net midway through the second set, using 14 kills to pull away to clinch a two-game lead over the Savages. Reynolds, who finished with 36 assists against Sigourney, added four consecutive ace serves early in the third set to help the Bravettes jump out to a commanding 7-1 lead, taking most of the remaining drama out of the match.
"We all really wanted this match. It was really important to us," said Madelynn Hornback, one of six senior Sigourney volleyball players honored on Monday. "In the end, Montezuma was the better team, but I'm really proud of our effort."
Hornback and fellow senior Madison Richard each had a pair of ace serves, combing to finish 22-24 serving to pace the Savages on Senior Night. Raegan Rozenboom added a team-leading six kills and 11 digs for Sigourney after joining Hornback, Richard, Raegan Talbert, Emma Gilliland and Maizy Cowman as the six seniors honored prior to the match.
"We've played together for a very long time, ever since seventh grade," Hornback said. "It's fun to share in the experience of playing one of my final matches here at home with my favorite people."
Sigourney (13-9, 7-3 SICL) will have at least one more night to play on their home court next Monday, facing either North Mahaska or Keota on the opening night of pool play in the South Iowa Cedar League Tournament. The Warhawks (14-12) and Keota (5-12) will face off in Sigourney on Monday at 5 p.m. Sigourney will play the winner later that night. The winner of that match advances to the gold bracket of the tournament and will head to Belle Plaine to compete with the four top pool-play teams in the SICL tournament finals on Thursday, Oct. 14.
"That would be the first opportunity these seniors have had to play in the gold bracket of the tournament," Sattz said. "Regardless of this week's outcome, at the end of the day, we have the chance to do something special."