CEDAR FALLS — The final results of the Iowa Star Conference volleyball match between Janesville and Valley Lutheran Thursday will enter the books as a 25-9, 25-11, 25-20 sweep for the top-ranked (Class 1A) Wildcats.
But according to Janesville coach Shelly Sorensen and Valley coach Len Brokenshire, the match between the up and coming Crusaders (4-6) and the Wildcats (11-6) was much closer than the final scores indicated.
“Valley Lutheran played very well, and has improved a lot from last year,” Wildcats coach Shelly Sorensen said. “They have a lot of enthusiasm and hustle and they scored a lot of points on us. We had quite a few errors, but they have made a lot of improvements, and it shows that you just can not take anyone lightly.”
In the first set, the Crusaders battled early and on the strength of two big kills and a power block from senior hitter Geneva Basye, closed to with in two points (6-4) before surrendering 25-9.
Set two was a repeat as the Wildcats held a slim 14-11 lead. Junior Kennedy Meister sent a thundering kill shot down the middle that put the Wildcats on a 11-point run to claim set..
“I told the girls before the game that they needed to see this night as a privilege to play the number one team in the state,” Brokenshire said. “They embraced the thought and got excited about playing. We told them that we can only control ourselves and if we played our best, we would make them (Wildcats) play their best.”
The Crusaders did not go away all night, and in fact charged forward as they grabbed their first lead of the night, 3-2, as Kapanka blazed a shot cross court for the point. Kapanka’s score propelled the Crusaders to a 8-3 advantage, as they were looking to take a game from Janesville.
However, Wildcat senior Gillian Gergen was not going to let that happen as she smashed a big kill through the Crusaders front line to stop the run. Gergen found the corner on a soft shot to tie the contest at 8-8. But Valley didn’t go away and lead 17-14.
But by feeding Gergen consistently, Janesville rallied to take the game and the match from the Crusaders.
“They have really improved a lot over the years,” Gergen said.. “In that third set they seemed to have wanted it a little more than us, and obviously we got a little nervous.” Gergen said.
The nerves were quickly set at ease as the Wildcats continuosly fed Gergen for much needed points.
Basye said she liked how she and her teammates battled the Wildcats.
“This team has come such a long way since my freshman year,” Basye said. “This team has so much heart and the connection we have with each other is so rewarding. We focus more on the little things and get excited about the little victories, sometimes the score doesn’t matter.
“Even though we lost it feels so empowering to play like we did tonight.”