As the smallest school taking part at the season-opening triangular in Anamosa Tuesday, Aug. 24, Midland volleyball coach Gennifer Schroeder knew her team would have their hands full playing Vinton-Shellsburg and the host Raiders.
That didn’t stop the Eagles from getting more and more comfortable on the court however.
“Vinton-Shellsburg was a tough match because they brought the intensity right away,” said Schroeder, as Midland was handed an 8-25, 13-25 defeat against the Vikings in the first match of the evening.
“They have some great hitters in their front row, so being able to adjust and read their hits was our biggest challenge. We were able to get our hands on the ball and set things up offensively, but we needed to hit around the block to capitalize on offense. The girls seemed to settle in a little better during the second set.”
Midland (0-2) was led on the offensive end by Anna Bartels’ three kills while Bailie Uppena, Allison Paulsen and Isabelle Ricketts all slammed down two more each for the Eagles as Elizabeth Soper set seven assists.
Gracie Harrington worked the back row to perfection coming up with four digs for the Eagle defense while Paulsen delivered the lone service ace in the match going 5-for-5 at the line.
Midland continued their improved play in the second match against host Anamosa, succumbing to a 17-25, 16-25 defeat at the hands of the Raiders.
“As the night progressed against Anamosa, we continued to get better and take advantage of key plays and open shots at the net,” Schroeder said. “Gracie Harrington was able to help defensively with digs and serve receives to help start the offense.
“During the sets against Anamosa, there was a lot more offense to work with because I think the girls were getting more comfortable and started playing with a solid rhythm. Elizabeth was able to set the ball up to Allison, Isabelle and Anna for success.”
Paulsen’s three kills paced the Eagle offense against the Raiders while Bartels added two more.
Midland played well on the defensive side of the net as well as Bartels (six blocks) and Gatts (4) combined for 10 blocks in the match.
“I look forward to conference play and tournaments on the weekends,” Schroeder said. “We’ll need to focus on reading the hits from the opposing team, along with capitalizing on any open areas while on offense.
“The best part about this team is that anyone on the roster is capable of stepping in and contributing to nearly any position on the court. We have girls with a solid core of abilities and will just need to tweak some things in terms of rotations to find who is going to work the most cohesive next to each other.”