WATERLOO — Ashley Berinobis is not a fan of consolation prizes.
Therefore, Berinobis was not in the mood to award her 14th-ranked Waterloo West volleyball team any type of praise after a four-set loss to No. 2 Iowa City Liberty Tuesday in a Mississippi Valley Conference match at Siddens Gymnasium.
The Wahawks (15-7) fell way behind early in three of the four games as the Lightning (20-1) rallied for a 25-27, 25-12, 25-10, 25-18 victory.
“We are a really good team,” Berinobis said. “We are not just out there to play. We don’t know how to win. In practice, we look like we can beat anyone and then we get to a game and we forget how to play volleyball.”
Berinobis wouldn’t even go so far as to praise West’s effort in game one as the Wahawks spotted Liberty a 10-1 lead only to stage an incredible comeback to win the game and give a huge crowd something to cheer about.
Sparked by the play of freshman Sahara Williams, West began climbing back in the game midway through as a 5-0 run turned a 21-14 deficit to 21-19. Williams had two aces in that run. Then after Liberty regrouped and took a 24-21 lead, the Wahawks found more magic.
A service error made it 24-22, then Williams stuffed back-to-back attacks to tie the match for the first time. An attack error by West made it 25-24, but it was re-tied after an attack error by Liberty. The Wahawks’ Lauren Conrey followed with back-to-back kills to complete the West comeback with her final kill rolling along the top of the net and eventually falling on the Liberty side.
Williams had 3 1/2 blocks in that game one win.
“That is how they should play all the time,” Berinobis added. “We shouldn’t have to go in to fight, we should go in there to play volleyball.”
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That was one of the last highlights for West as Liberty with several strong options never lifted its foot off the gas over the last three games. Game two saw West keep it close as the score was tied at 7-7 before the Lightning’s Addison Schmierer served 10 straight winning points.
Liberty got huge contributions from Kennedy Daugherty, Shelby Kimm, Cassidy Hartman and Sydney Woods with setters Rylee Fay and Hailey Hested finding attackers on numerous occasions with free swings and no blockers.
“We were content with winning the first set,” Berinobis added. “That was it. We always start every set zero to six. We always fight to get back in because we never get or keep a lead.
“They’ve got to believe in themselves. Right now Tyler (West assistant coach Gladden) and I believe in them more than they believe in themselves.”
Avery Kroll led West with 10 kills, while Conrey added eight. Williams ended the match with four blocks and three aces.
Tuesday’s match honored longtime Waterloo teacher and coach Karen DeSerano, who was diagnosed with breast cancer this past May. October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.
The evening raised more than $3,500 for breast cancer research in the name of DeSerano, a former West volleyball player who has coached volleyball, basketball, and track at Hoover Middle School. She has also served as the official scorer at Northern Iowa volleyball matches for the past 31 years.