SHENANDOAH – It started out well for Shenandoah in its first volleyball match of the season, Thursday, Sept. 5 at home against Denison-Schleswig.
The Fillies won the first set 25-23, but it sank quickly from there and the Fillies never recovered, dropping the final three sets 25-13, 25-10 and 25-14.
It couldn’t have started much better in the first match for a Shenandoah team that returned just five players with any sort of varsity experience. Claire Adkins slammed home two kills and added an ace to give the Fillies an early 8-3 advantage, leading to a Monarchs timeout.
Denison-Schleswig quickly rallied, however, and had its first lead at 11-10. The lead grew to as many as four for the Monarchs, but Shenandoah made a late run.
A Natalie Gilbert kill brought Shenandoah within 22-21, and then a kill by twin sister Nichole made it 23-22 Monarchs. That winner started a 4-0 spurt, which ended with Olivia Stogdill at the service line.
“We couldn’t have asked for more from the girls,” Shenandoah coach Toni Comstock said on the opening set. “We had a gameplan coming in. We knew 13 (Hannah Neemann) and 11 (Allana Arkfeld) were their go-to (players). We came out and stopped them. They got even and we were able to dig our way out of the hole.”
Denison-Schleswig scored the first five points in the second set and the Fillies never really challenged again the rest of the match.
Another 5-0 run for the Monarchs later in the second set put it out of reach. Denison-Schleswig runs of 6-0 and 8-0 gave the Monarchs an 18-4 lead in the third set. Denison-Schleswig scored five of the first six in the fourth set and led by as many as 13. The Fillies made a little push late, but the deficit was way too large.
Comstock said there were way too many errors from her team.
“You can’t even pick one position,” said Comstock. “It was all of them from passing to blocking to hitting and serving. We basically gave them 17 points by missed serves and being in the net. We have things to work on.”
All but two players that suited saw time, but Comstock said while it’s nice for the newcomers to get a taste of varsity, that wasn’t necessarily by design.
“Some of the girls that came in off the bench were thrown into situations they hadn’t seen,” said Comstock. “We have almost 10 girls who got some kind of varsity time. I need to do a better job of prepping them, but I don’t care if you’re a freshman to a senior, if you’re not going to step up you’re going to come out.”
Comstock said there were some positives, just not nearly consistently enough.
“We can dig ourselves out a hole,” said Comstock. “We can serve aggressive, we can hit the ball around their block. It’s just a choice if we’re going to do it all the time or some of the time.”
Jasmine Rogers led the offense with seven kills while Natalie Gilbert added six.
Nichole Gilbert distributed 16 assists.
Both Gilberts and Macee Blank led the defense with 10 digs each.
Denison-Schleswig improved to 5-1 overall and 1-1 in the conference.
Several pictures from the match can be seen at valleynewstoday.com.
Shenandoah is right back on the court, Saturday, Sept. 7 at the Clarinda Tournament. The Fillies will play Nodaway Valley, West Central Valley and Tri-Center in pool play. A top two finish in the pool would advance them to the semifinals.
Conference play continues with a home match against Harlan, Tuesday, Sept. 10.