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On paper, Mediapolis’ 6-14 record would indicate the program has fallen on hard times, but many of their losses have come to larger, ranked programs.
They showed they were still a team to be reckoned with a 3-0 sweep in front of the Highland crowd (25-15, 25-23, 25-21).
“I think there was a sense that we could compete with them and that this was a good year for us. I think that the girls felt like they could compete,” Highland co-head coach Carrie Wieland said. “I think that was the best that we’ve played Mepo in years and the last two games were a much better show of our ability as Highland.”
Mediapolis put Highland on the defensive early in set one, grabbing four of the first five points and 12 of the opening 15 as the Huskies looked just a little off, both in the opening set and throughout. The team was a little slow getting to certain balls and on multiple occasions the team got digs that they couldn’t soften enough and ended up going right back over the net.
In that opening set, Wieland saw her team falling prey to the same infighting that has plagued them all season.
“We just really break down when we get on each other and we don’t support each other,” she said.
Mediapolis again jumped on Highland and maintained a six point lead as late as 20-14, but Highland responded came back to tie things at 21, the first deadlock since the set was 1-1. After a Mediapolis point, they responded to tie things again at 22 and 23 before Mediapolis picked up two straight for the 25-23 set win.
Highland came out on the front foot earning the first point in set three, their first lead of the night, and five of the first seven points before Mediapolis stormed back to take the lead. A five point run gave Mediapolis a lead they would not squander, though after trailing 23-17, Highland tried to respond, but too late.
Wieland said they will focus on using pushes better in practice, so as not to set up their opponents with a free hit and better filling the holes that they are leaving in their defensive setup, which allowed Mediapolis to get 16 aces in the contest.
Despite the loss, Wieland said she senses the team is close.
“It’s almost there. It’s like we’re almost ready and we’re almost finishing and we just kind of let down and get down on each other. Once we get that fixed, we’ll be a good team,” she said.
Mediapolis: 25; 25; 25
Highland: 15; 23; 21
Alyson Stokes 6
Murphy Beinhart 9
Sydney Black 16
Alyson Stokes 12
Alyson Stokes 2
Highland came up just short in a back and forth match on the road when they took on Pekin and lost their first five set match since Aug. 31. Pekin edged them out in a final set that required extra play (25-21, 23-25, 25-20, 20-25, 18-16).
The game was hard fought, with both teams going all out. The teams combined for 181 digs, just over 36 combined digs per set. 94 of those digs came from Highland.
On paper, Highland had the statistical advantage in most areas. From the service line, Highland bested Pekin 16-8. Highland was also more efficient on offense with a .138 kill efficiency compared to a .087. They also controlled the net with 14 blocks as a team compared to five.
Senior Sydney Black was all over the court defensively leading the team in both blocks, with six, and was second in digs, 20.
Highland hosted their final regular season home game against Wapello Oct. 10.
Highland: 21; 25; 20; 25; 16
Pekin: 25; 23; 25; 20; 18
Bailey Harmston 9
Murphy Beinhart 10
Kylie Wood 9
Alyson Stokes 25
Sydney Black 20
Murphy Beinhart 18
Sydney Black 6
Bailey Harmston 4
Kylie Wood 26-28, 5 aces.