Ames volleyball gives Harrison Barnes Court a proper intro. Little Cyclones win opener.
Jude Spillers was grinning ear to ear as she turned toward the video board during the introduction of the Ames volleyball team in its home opener Tuesday.
The Little Cyclones were hosting Marshalltown in the first varsity athletics event at Harrison Barnes Gymnasium and Court at the new high school in Ames. The volleyball players put a lot of work in setting up their poses for the video introduction, and they finally got to see the final product Tuesday.
Spillers was like a kid in a candy store as she watched herself dive onto the floor in slow motion to dig the volleyball before it hit the ground during the video to hype up the Little Cyclone opener.
"It just didn't feel real," Spillers said. "It's like nothing we've ever had before. It got us really excited. It was surreal."
With the new high school years in the making, Tuesday was a dream come true for the Little Cyclone volleyball players. Especially the seniors.
"It feels great," senior setter Elaina Deardorff said. "I don't know what else to say ... it was amazing."
The new gym featured a hardwood floor with a lot more shine on it than at the old gym. The brightly lit gym with a big Cyclone emblem at center court and the Ames logo on the far wall made for the perfect viewing experience for spectators and players alike.
"I felt like I was home," Ames middle hitter Nadia Tulp said. "I've been waiting for this all year. It was just so exciting to go out and play with these girls and I just love how this gym brings everyone together. When it was two layers (at the old gym) they (the spectators) were kind of away from the action. But now everyone is in it, they're ready to watch us and it just makes us better."
Tulp slammed home a kill to win the first set for Ames. The Little Cyclones went on to sweep Marshalltown by scores of 25-16, 25-15 and 26-24.
"It's super cool," Ames head coach Meg Williams said. "It's almost like you're starting something new. New gym, new volleyball season ... it's exciting. I was pretty happy with the outcome."
The new gym may have even brought out some "Little Cyclone magic."
The Little Cyclones nearly let the third set get away from them. They gave up 12 consecutive points to enable Marshalltown to take a 22-19 lead late in the set.
But Ames reeled off six of the final eight points thanks in large part to two big kills from athletic middle hitter D'Niaya Settles and a clutch Ireland Buss block before Olivia Timmermans wrapped up the victory with an ace serve.
"We took a time out and I said we need to be more aggressive," Williams said. "A lot of it was first-game jitters. I told them don't worry about making a mistake. We need to be aggressive at the net and we need to swing hard and I think they just built each other up. The bench was really loud and they were building everybody up. That helped us come together as a team toward the end."
Even though the ending did come a little quick, it was the perfect way to finish off an exciting opening night of action on the new court.
"There were so many good parts," Deardorff said. "But it was so nice to be three sets and over with."