MHS begins division play with victory

FORT DODGE – Now more than six weeks into the volleyball season, the Bobcats began conference play with a bang.

Marshalltown rallied back from a 2-1 deficit to take down Fort Dodge (9-22, 0-1) in five sets, defeating the Dodgers 25-15, 20-25, 20-25, 25-23, 15-8, in Tuesday’s Central Iowa Conference Northern Division opener on the road.

Rachel Whaley hammered out 17 kills and Leiah Paustian had 14 more to help the Bobcats (9-14, 1-0) come from behind, and Haley Vajgrt chalked up three consecutive aces to seal the fifth set for MHS.

“Rachel and Leiah, those girls hitting on the outside, came up huge for us tonight,” said MHS coach Terri Westendorf. “We had some great digs down the stretch. Way to go girls, it was awesome.

“Everybody did what we needed them to do to get the win tonight.”

Whaley and Paustian combined for 31 of the Bobcats’ 44 kills on the night. Emily Rebik contributed five kills and a team-leading four blocks in the middle, while Paustian and Whaley led the squad with 22 and 16 digs, respectively.

Amanda Hughes handed out 19 assists, Lindsey Ricken had 16, and libero player Sharissa Stansberry chipped in with 11 digs.

Marshalltown served 99-for-103 as a team, tallying six aces. None proved larger, Westendorf said, than Vajgrt’s three aces in a row to end the match. Vajgrt was 18-for-19 at the service line. Rebik went 24-for-25, Ricken was 17-for-17 with two aces, and Paustian was 15-for-15.

Molly Major stepped in and contributed eight digs and 12-for-13 serving, and Sam Hughes totaled three blocks for the Bobcats.

“We were down 23-21 in that fourth set and we got some great digs and that win gave us great motivation and the girls took it and ran,” Westendorf said. “They were in charge in game five.”

Marshalltown remains on the road through the weekend, going to the Oskaloosa Tournament on Saturday. The next home match for MHS is a CIC Northern Division tilt against Ames next Tuesday night.