WATERLOO — Waterloo Columbus made a strong opening statement Thursday night, but Dike-New Hartford’s powerhouse volleyball program had the final word.
The Sailors took the opening set 25-19 before Class 3A’s fifth-ranked Wolverines recovered for 25-11, 25-18 and 25-16 victories in the North Iowa Cedar League matchup.
“We were not shocked at all to see Columbus play this well,” said Dike-New Hartford coach Diane Harms. “We just were not ready for them to come out as strong as they did and to play with as much energy as they did. They forced us into some errors and attacked us very well.
“I think our girls settled down after that and came back out and played the way we are capable of playing.”
Throughout the night, however, both squads went toe-to-toe with numerous long rallies that resulted in huge momentum swings.
“It’s been this way all season,” said Columbus coach Kerry Merrifield. “It’s been like a roller coaster. One game we are up here and the next we are down here. Even in a game we have a set where we played great, then the next set we cannot mentally get things right.
“Last weekend we take a set from Cedar Falls, the number one team in the state, then we can’t win another one. Same here tonight, we win the first one but then we give up long runs to a team like Dike. You cannot give up those long runs. This team is so physically fit to play, but we just have mental breakdowns and that has cost us.”
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When the Sailors made a charge in the fourth set Thursday, the Wolverines turned to senior Morgan Weber for back-to-back kills that helped build the lead back to 22-14.
A Sailor miscue followed by another monster blast by Weber gave Dike-New Hartford (26-11) set and match point.
“It isn’t as if I am the only one they go to,” said Weber. “I feel I can help make a difference, but we have so many strong hitters on this team it would be tough to just try to stop one.
“We had a lot of unforced errors in that first set and they came out hot. None of us played at our best and we just didn’t do our jobs. I think after the first set we settled in and got more comfortable with what we should be doing. Everyone did their job after that and it was a good win.”
Columbus fell to 20-23 on the season.
“I give Columbus credit, they came out and blocked well and were swinging well,” said Harms. “We played better at the end and now we have just a few games left before the postseason and we have Columbus and Union in our region. It won’t be easy.”