HUXLEY - The North Polk volleyball team took out Woodward-Granger and Greene County at the Ballard Invitational Saturday in Huxley.
The Comets went 2-2 during the tournament as their season record went to 15-10. They swept both Woodward-Granger and Greene County, and came up short against two ranked bigger schools in Johnston and Pella.
North Polk pulled off 21-14 and 21-17 wins over Woodward-Granger. Carolyn Steffen delivered seven kills, five digs, two blocks and two aces at outside hitter and Jaedon Murphy five kills and two blocks at middle hitter in the win.
Leah Cam came through with three blocks and two kills and Rebecca Ley three digs and two kills for the Comets. Hailey Becker chipped in two digs, one block and one kill; Nora Aschoff had 10 digs and Katie Scott came up with nine digs.
Grace Nelson dished out seven assists and Danielle Bonewitz added five assists, two digs and one ace.
North Polk scored 22-20 and 21-18 victories over Greene County. Steffen also performed at a high level against the Rams with 11 kills and digs apiece plus one ace and Becker, Cam, Ley and Bella Rademacher each chipped in four kills apiece.
Becker also contributed two blocks; Cam three blocks; Ley four digs, one block and one assist and Rademacher two blocks. Murphy tacked on three kills and blocks apiece.
Aschoff came through with 15 digs and one kill, assist and ace apiece against Greene County. Scott had seven digs and one assist, Bonewitz 12 assists and three digs and Nelson 10 assists and five digs.
The Comets suffered 21-13 and 21-6 losses at the hands of a Johnston team rated No. 15 in Class 5A. Steffen delivered three kills, four digs and one block and Ley finished with three kills and one dig in the loss.
Becker chipped in one kill, Aschoff six digs, Scott four digs and Hailey Steffen three digs. Cam added one block and ace apiece, Murphy one block, Bonewitz four aces and three digs and Nelson two assists, two digs and one ace.
North Polk gave Pella a good fight before falling to the No. 2 team in 3A in three sets. The Comets took the second set by a 21-18 score after suffering a 21-12 setback in the opener, but they came up short in the rally game by a 15-12 decision.
Carolyn Steffen had six kills, six digs and two blocks and Cam delivered five kills, three blocks and one ace to lead a balanced North Polk attack versus Pella. Ley added four kills and three digs, Becker four kills and two blocks, Murphy three kills and one block and Rademacher one block.
Aschoff put up 14 digs and two assists and Scott 12 digs and two aces against Pella. Nelson and Bonewitz each handed out eight assists and they combined for nine digs and one ace.
NEVADA - North Polk was unable to overcome Nevada’s mystique in a Heart of Iowa Conference match Sept. 14 at the Nevada High School Field House.
Nevada entered the match 1-0 in the conference, having won the last five HOIC titles. North Polk, playing in its first conference match, appeared up to the task of dethroning the Cubs — having defeated them at the Southeast Polk Invitational the previous weekend.
But Nevada raised its game to a whole new level in the rematch. The Cubs swept the Comets by scores of 25-22, 25-18 and 25-21 to take a big step toward yet another championship.
Nevada (8-7, 2-0) outclassed North Polk early in the first set, then held off a late Comet rally for the win. The Cubs fell behind early in the second set, but took control in the middle and pulled away late, with a Katie Sullivan kill finishing off the victory.
In the third set North Polk played its best volleyball early, jumping out to a 14-6 lead. But errors had plagued the Comets all match and they caught up to them again in the third set, allowing Nevada to close the match on a 9-1 run and steal the victory.
“We were probably a little tight being at their house,” North Polk head volleyball coach Matt Overton said. “We played them this weekend and we did just fine — we beat them in two. I think we came in a little unfocused and not ready.”
A balanced attack played a huge role in the win for Nevada.
The Cubs don’t have the all-state performers such as Abby Stephenson or current UNI Panther Kati Cassabaum they’ve had in the past to rely on in crunch time. But they have several players capable of stepping up when needed and that was evident against North Polk, as five Nevada players tallied at least three kills.
Sullivan led Nevada with six kills against North Polk. The sister tandem of Kacie and Kelby Rewerts each tallied five, Rhodes finished with four and Madison Thompson came up with three.
But mistakes were probably the biggest factor in North Polk’s downfall. The Comets had 30 attack errors against just 24 kills in 131 attacks and also had problems with serve receive.
“In that middle (set) we gave them 24 errors,” Overton said. “We gave them a whole set. The third set we gave them over 10 errors. You look at the score — that’s what’s killing us.”
North Polk fell to 13-8 overall and 0-1 in the conference with the loss. Despite the outcome, the Comets still have a shot at getting at least a piece of the conference title and their biggest goal — returning to state — is still in front of them.
“Our team is really good,” Overton said. “It just depends what team wants to show up to play. The good thing is we shouldn’t be peaking now. We are improving every day. We have to understand the meaning of finish and go all out every point. When we get that figured out, we’re going to be pretty good.”
Carolyn Steffen had 12 kills and digs apiece, Nora Aschoff came up with 17 digs and Grace Nelson dished out 16 assists and added four digs for the Comets against Nevada. Rebecca Ley added five kills, three digs and one block; Jaedon Murphy totaled four kills and two blocks; Emily Larson had four digs, two blocks and one kill; Danielle Bonewitz delivered six assists and five digs and Katie Scott chipped in 10 digs and one ace.