In a clash of top-10-ranked squads, Class 4-A No. 7 Lewis Central defeated 3-A No. 7 Carroll Kuemper 25-16, 26-28, 25-3, 25-22.
After losing a see-saw second set, the Titans took care of business the rest of the way.
L.C. senior Megan Witte led the offense with 22 kills on the night. Witte also chipped in 12 digs and four assist blocks. Witte started the evening second in Class 4-A with 327 kills.
Delaney Esterling was second on the team with nine kills and led the way with eight aces. Senior Natalie Driver had 23 assists and 10 digs, while Rachel Cushing led the defense with 18 digs.
“I thought it was a great team effort on our part,” Lewis Central coach Mike Bond said. “We mixed the ball up really well, caused their defense to have to guess where to go. Tough serving on our part and real good defense was the difference in the game tonight.”
Lewis Central and Carroll Kuemper traded blows the first two sets, with each winning a set, before the Titans took control of the match in the third set.
The Titans led early in set one, 8-3, before the Knights fought back 10-8. A solo block by Madisyn Havermann made the score 13-9 in favor of the Titans. She later added an assist block to help extend the lead to 16-12.
Macy Mulder had a big play on defense later in the set, with a dig that helped Lewis Central extend their lead to 20-12. Havermann then came up big on defense soon after to help the Titans close out the first set 25-16.
Set two was a back-and-forth title fight between the two top 10 ranked teams in the Hawkeye Ten standings. Carroll Kuemper Senior Kara Peter (7th in Class 3-A with 301 kills on the season coming into the match), took over early in the set as the Knights jumped out to a 6-1 lead.
Answering the call, Witte hammered two straight kills to keep the affair close. Not to be outdone, Peter storms the Knights back with another kill to tie the set 15-15. Witte later added her ninth and 10th kills of the set, while Cushing came up with a big dig on defense.
In the end though, Peter and the Knights prevailed 28-26 to even the match at one set apiece.
Lewis Central came back strong in the third set with a dominating performance to win 25-3. Esterling sprinkled in a few aces while the Titans charged out to a 14-1 lead. It was a nice bounce back set from Lewis Central.
Up 2-1 in the match, Lewis Central didn’t let up on the gas, finishing off the Knights 25-22 in the fourth set.
“I was more worried about the set after 25-3,” Bond said.
No worries for Lewis Central as the home crowd made sure to keep the Titans focused.
Talking about the home crowd, Bond said they helped his team “immensely.”
“We even talked about that in the huddle. A couple of times I thought we were playing a little flat. I said, ‘Feed off the crowd, they’re here to help ya.’ They brought us up a couple of times when we needed it.”
According to Bond, it was a team effort for the Titans.
“I told them in there, I said if I were giving a game ball, I would need 10 of them. All of them at times had streaks, everyone contributed a lot.”
Lewis Central improved to 22-4 with the win while Carroll Kuemper suffered only its third loss of the season (24-3). The Titans have now won seven straight matches and snapped the 11-match winning streak of the Knights (losses to Harlan and Spirit Lake).
Lewis Central (22-4, 6-1) 25 26 25 25
Carroll Kuemper (24-3, 8-1) 16 28 3 22
L.C. stats: Megan Witte (22 kills, 12 digs, 4A blocks), Delaney Esterling (9 kills, 2 digs, 8 aces), Madisyn Havermann (5 kills, 4 digs, 3 aces, 6A blocks, 2 solo), Natalie Driver (23 assists, 10 digs), Rachel Cushing (18 digs), Lauren Payne (1 kill, 4A blocks, 1 solo), Presley Rodenburg (4 kills, 2 digs, 2 aces, 2A blocks).