SIGOURNEY — If they could just play like that the whole time is a common refrain heard in sports and it could be applied to Monday’s action in the first round of the South Iowa Cedar League tournament.
Keota hustled to play kills and tough serves as well as providing a formidable defense at the net, but couldn’t sustain the effort in a 3-0 loss to HLV.
The Eagles made some great plays but they were not able to sustain them for the entire set or match.
“Consistency. Consistency has been our word for the year,” Keota head coach Sky Hahn said. “I thought we got to a lot of balls and got our hands on them. We had a really good blocking at the net.”
HLV’s serving helped it take an 8-2 lead in the opening set. An ace by Makenzie Jackson brought Keota to within 10-5, but that was as close as the Eagles would get. An ace by Karlee Timm was HLV’s winning point in a 25-14 set.
Keota stayed close in the second set but trailing 12-11, Ashleen Nowotny nailed consecutive aces in a run that stretched HLV’s lead to 17-11. Taylor Kindred provided an answer for the Eagles with a block, a kill, and an ace serve to close the gap to 18-14. Katelyn Swantz also had answers when her block, kill and ace brought Keota to within 23-20. HLV’s kill ended the set at 25-20.
“I thought the girls did a good job of trying to be scrappy,” Hahn said.
Keota would play well in stretches but there were lapses that enabled the Warriors to stretch the lead.
Lindsey Imhoff got Keota within a point in the third set at 6-5. Swantz landed an ace, trailing 12-8 and made an incredible diving dig down 15-9. HLV’s serve and kills stretched the lead to 19-10 and Keota hitting errors ended the match.
“Sometimes I think maybe the effort wasn’t all there,” Hahn said. “They know that it wasn’t a wholehearted effort all the way through.”
Serve receive is always an area teams work on tirelessly and the Eagles are no different.
“I thought we did a better job of adjusting to their service then we have in the past,” Hahn said. “It takes time to build foundational skills and we need to do it earlier.”
The key is not to have turnover when teaching those skills.
“I think we are getting some traction in that area because we have five seniors this year and typically we are younger,” Hahn said.
Bailey Sieren, Swantz, Callie McNurlen, Imhoff and Alexia Purkeypile have been with the program and Hahn said they are key to the future.
“They made their way through, so I hope the season is a turning point for us. We have younger girls that are excited to play and I’m excited to coach them. If we get the foundational skills taught in fifth through eighth grade, then it’s more advanced teaching in high school.”
Keota plays next in the first round of the Class 1A postseason against Lisbon at Lisbon Oct. 19.