RUNNELLS – Not even the 14th-ranked team in Class 5A could add a blemish to the record of the Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont volleyball team.
It took two of the top teams in the Little Hawkeye Conference give the Rockets an imperfect record on Saturday at Metro Volleyball Classic.
Fifth-ranked (4A) Oskaloosa and No. 12 (4A) Pella scored wins over the previously-unbeaten Rockets. The Little Dutch became the first team to knock off EBF, barely winning a pair of tightly-contested games (25-23, 21-19) while Osky was able to put away a 21-16, 21-17 sweep of the Rockets on Saturday at Southeast Polk.
"We played very well this weekend in many aspects," EBF head volleyball coach Gladys Genskow said. "This was a gage of how we compared to strong teams in a higher class and we stood the test."
Case in point, EBF entered the weekend tournament with a 10-0 record before improving to 12-0 with a pair of sweeps over Class 5A opponents. After sweeping Cedar Rapids Jefferson (21-13, 21-18), the 14th-ranked (3A) Rockets took down 14th-ranked (5A) Southeast Polk in three set bouncing back from a 22-20 loss in the opening game to win the match with a 21-12 win in the second game and an impressive 15-10 win in the third and decisive set of the match.
"Our team competed well against highly ranked opponents," Genskow said. "Our hitting and serving remain our strong areas this weekend. Our blockers did their jobs well, too."
Molly Shafer led EBF at the net, going 90-98 in hitting with a team-best 44 kills in the four matches while adding five aces on 28-33 serving, 15 digs and four blocks. Whitney Klyn led the Rockets with 24 digs in the tournament while adding 10 kills on 31-39 hitting, two aces on 22-29 serving and seven blocks.
Kate Shafer collected a team-leading 73 assists for the Rockets while collecting one kill on 5-5 hitting, three aces on 20-23 serving, eight digs and three blocks. Ruth E. Gutch led EBF in serving, going 32-36 on the day with six aces while adding two kills on 5-8 hitting, nine digs and five blocks.
Aliya Wagamon paced EBF defensively at the net with a team-high 10 blocks, going 5-10 in attacking with three kills in the four matches. Sarah Schutt had 15 digs, one kill on 1-3 hitting and one ace on 16-19 serving. Cooper Champoux was 15/19 hitting with three kills, 25/29 serving with two aces, seven digs and three blocks for the Rockets in the tournament.
"As with other teams, we still struggle in areas we will continue to work on in practice," Genskow said. "Getting everyone to own their role on this team will make for success as we hit the heart of the season. Utilizing our strengths is a key to success, while striving to improve on our weaknesses every single match will make our team stronger.
"We need to focus on the "One Team One Dream" aspect as we continue toward that road everyone strives to achieve."
No. 14 (3A) EBF (12-2) returns to South Central Conference play on Tuesday at home against Knoxville.