The 2013 season was another challenging one for the Ballard volleyball program, but the Bombers did make some positive strides under first-year coach Morgan Hassman.
Ballard went 6-20 overall and 2-5 in the Raccoon River Conference this season. Those records were a slight upgrade from 2012, when the Bombers finished 6-21 overall and 0-8 in the conference.
Ballard split its six victories evenly between the first and second halves of the season.
On Sept. 10 Ballard traveled to Winterset and swept the Huskies for its first win of the season and first RRC victory in two years. The next week the Bombers edged Perry in a five-set RRC battle, and on Sept. 21, they scored a sweep over Knoxville at the Ballard Invitational.
The Bombers struggled after the Bomber Invitational, with the win over Knoxville being their only triumph in a 10-match stretch. Ballard halted that streak by earning a victory over Clarke in a triangular match with the Indians and Carlisle Oct. 8 at Carlisle.
The Bombers also knocked off Saydel at a Perry tournament on Oct. 15. The Bombers finished the regular season with losses to Carroll and Norwalk.
"Ballard volleyball had its ups and downs this past season," Hassman said. "The girls faced many challenges. They adapted well to a new coaching staff and all the things that came with that."
In the postseason Ballard managed to pick up a victory in the opening round of Class 4A regional play. The Bombers swept Saydel in three matches at Huxley.
Ballard saw its season end in the regional semifinals as the Bombers were swept by a Waverly-Shell Rock team that went on to make the state tournament.
"The biggest highlight was seeing my team make it to the second round regional game," Hassman said. "Even though we were defeated in that match, we were all able to walk off the court with smiles on our faces."
For the season Ballard had 470 kills – an average of 6.44 per set – and 273 attack errors in 1,376 attacks for a kill-efficiency rate of .143. The Bombers also averaged an impressive 6.89 blocks per set – totaling 503, including 129 solo – and they compiled 358 digs for an average of 4.90 per set.
Ballard connected on 84 percent of its serves during the season. The Bombers produced 129 aces, averaging 1.77 per set.
Seniors Brooke Mallon and Alanna Dubberke and sophomores Meredith Ossian and Hannah Larsen were Ballard’s most prolific players at the net.
Mallon led the team with 116 kills and she had a .159 kill-efficiency rate at outside hitter. Mallon also compiled 86 blocks, 68 digs and 33 aces in 72 sets on the season.
Dubberke led Ballard with 145 blocks, including 51 solo blocks at middle blocker. She also came through with 115 kills on a team-high .221 efficiency rate and added 15 aces in 67 sets.
Ossian came up with 82 kills and 99 blocks – 30 of which were solo – as the other middle blocker in the Bomber rotation. Ossian recorded a .179 efficiency rate and she also delivered 11 aces.
Larsen produced 65 kills on a .172 efficiency rate. She tacked on 62 blocks and 15 digs on the season.
Freshman Abby Carlin and senior Charcey Petersen split the setting duties for Ballard.
Carlin handed out 185 assists. She was a strong all-around performer in finishing with 34 aces on a team-best 90-percent serving rate, 33 kills and 46 digs and blocks apiece.
Petersen dished out a team-high 225 assists. She also had 38 digs, 24 aces and 13 kills.
Rachel Bruns was a quality contributor at right-side hitter. Bruns tallied24 kills, 31 blocks, 12 assists, five digs and two aces as a senior.
Sheridan Gealow also provided support at the net. The junior registered 19 blocks, 11 kills and five aces.
In the back row junior libero Alex Petersen led Ballard with 90 digs. She also had 12 blocks and six kills.
Sophomore Emily Jurgensen tacked on 44 digs for Ballard in the back row. Senior Ashley Davis helped out with 27 digs.
Next season Ballard will have to go through some more challenges. The Bombers must replace a large senior class in Mallon, Dubberke, Charcey, Bruns, Gealow, Davis and Meg Hannasch.
"The seniors were amazing," Hassman said. "They were great leaders and I know they will go far in life."
Though the loss of such a large, experienced class will hurt next year, Hassman is optimistic about the 2014 season will bring for the Bombers.
"We have a lot of talent returning," Hassman said. "I am excited to see what next year brings."