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An impressive tournament win in Fairfield to open the season had IMS ranked No. 12 in the latest Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union ranking just hours before they took the court against the Arrows in Wapello.
The team looked impressive in a road sweep (26-24, 25-20, 25-23), despite losing Mia Graber to a knee injury during their warm up. Graber led the team last season with 117 kills and had a team-leading 14 kills in Fairfield.
Captain Avery Blauvelt stepped into Graber’s outside hitter role and fellow senior Raine Hathaway took over for Blauvelt as libero. Blauvelt played that position last season, plus coach Shannon Miller said the team was constantly making sure people could step into multiple positions if necessary.
“She’s been practicing hitting anyways, so she was able to fill that role. She was a little rusty, but I think she did a marvelous job,” Miller said of Blauvelt.
Hathaway had altered between libero and defensive specialist, so donning the white shirt was not much of an issue for her either.
“We’re just fortunate to have such versatile athletes,” Miller said.
IMS responded well early, taking four of the match’s first five points, and leading by as many as six in set one. A string of six straight points tied things at 12s. From there, the teams went back and forth. IMS managed to finally get some breathing room and had a 24-21 match point before Wapello tied things at 24.
IMS regrouped and managed to take the next two points and the set.
Set two went much the same way as the first. Tight for the first few points, IMS again pulled away and led by as many as eight (16-8). Wapello came charging back to tighten things late in the set and got as close as 22-20 before IMS slammed the door shut.
Wapello were the aggressors early in the third set, but IMS again pulled away before letting Wapello back in it. Leading by as many as seven, IMS found things tied at 23 before shutting down the Arrows the rest of the way for the
One of the key advantages for IMS in the match came at the service line. Wapello had just an 86.4 serve percentage and committed nine service errors over the course of the game. As a team, IMS had a 94.9 serve efficiency number.
What seemed to be particularly effective, was sending Joya Schrock and Avery Blauvelt to the service line back-to-back.
“Joya’s really come along with her serve. She’s developed a really nice short serve. Avery (Blauvelt) since she was a freshman has hit the ball hard,” Miller said.
As a duo, they were 26-27 from the line with one ace each.
Offensively, Rubye Ney and Suzanna Yoder led the team with eight kills. In Graber’s absence, Yoder took the lead offensively, with more than double the kill attempts as any other IMS player.
“I thought Mia going down put a little bit more pressure on Suzanna, but I thought she responded nicely. She’s really matured from sophomore to junior year as a player,” Miller said.
Defensively, Schrock and Yoder led the team with 13 and 12 digs respectively.
Despite the sweep, Miller knows with Graber going down, the work required from the rest of the team will have to increase, but she’s happy with the way they’ve responded so far.
“We’re going to have to hit the floor hard now, with Mia going down, we’re going to really have to step it up,” Miller said.
“I just really truly think we played as a team tonight,” Miller said.
Suzanna Yoder 8 kills, 12 digs, 11-12 serving, 2 aces
Rubye Ney 8 kills, .353 kill efficiency, 13 digs, 1 block
Joya Schrock 12-12 serving, 1 ace, 12-12 serving, 1 ace
Alyssa Hershberger 6 kills, 3 blocks, 1 ace
Raine Hathaway 7 digs, 7-7 serving, 1 ace
Avery Blauvelt 2 assists, 9 digs, 1 block, 14-15 serving, 1 ace