AURELIA - Balance just might be the theme in volleyball this season in the Northwest Conference.
Schaller-Crestland might a notch above everyone else, but the rest of the league's teams seem evenly matched.
That was proved here again Tuesday night, as Aurelia beat Storm Lake-St. Mary's in a five-game marathon match.
The Bulldogs improved to 2-2 in conference play and to 3-4 overall with the 26-28, 25-12, 25-18, 13-25 and 15-12 win.
"What was impressive was that we never gave up," Aurelia coach Kim Conover said. "We've had a tendency not to play well when we're behind."
Conover added that Amy Hirschman played well defensively at the net, finishing with eight blocks in 14 attempts.
Junior hitter Kristen Munden led the Bulldog attack with seven kills on 24 of 28 hitting. Cassy Smith registered five kills and Hirschman four. Smith added seven blocks, with Radke notching four.
Hirschman was 21 of 21 at the service line with two aces, while Christine Alfred was 20 of 20 in serving and also added two aces. Emily Sonksen was 19 of 19 at the line and Munden 17 of 17.
St. Mary's coach Michelle Rubel said her team played better Tuesday night than in a 3-0 loss at Alta Monday night.
"We served better than we did against Alta and our passing efficiency also improved," she said. "Our biggest issue, however, is that we still make too many mistakes and unforced errors. If we can decrease the number of points we give up by our serving errors, hitting errors, net fouls, etc., we will be tough to beat."
Juniors Abby Richardson and Janie Imming led the Panther offense, finishing with 12 and eight kills, respectively. Cassie Weaver added seven kills and two ace serves while Colleen Smith had four kills and 18 set assists. Imming had six blocks, with Richardson adding four blocks and 11 set assists.
Sioux Central 3,
Monday night, Sioux Central hitter Stef Madsen led the Rebel volleyball team to a 21-25, 25-13, 26-24, 25-19 win over Aurelia.
Conover said her team struggled with Madsen's power at the net.
"We had a tough time blocking her hits," Conover said. "But we came prepared to play and stayed focused except for a stretch in the second game.
"We are now playing with a full roster, so I am looking forward to us getting better with every match."
Against the Rebels, Aurelia's Jana Radke finished with eight kills on 25 of 25 hitting. She also added four blocks, with Amy Huseman adding six blocks.
St Mary's 0
The Alta volleyball team put it all together here Monday night, beating Storm Lake-St. Mary's 3-0 in a battle of Northwest Conference rivals.
The Cyclones improved to 2-1 in conference action and to 5-3 overall with the 25-11, 25-21, 25-14 win.
"It was a total team effort," Alta coach Jeannie Henningsen said Wednesday. "Our fundamentals were excellent and we served and passed the ball to (setter) Emily (Cameron) very well. If that happens, our hitters can really get our offense going."
Juniors Dee Hinkeldey and Jahde Hammer, along with Sierra Phipps, led the Cyclone offense with seven kills each. Hinkeldey had just two hitting errors in 17 attempts, while Hammer was 16 of 19 and Phipps 13 of 16.
"Our hitters really came through for us," Henningsen said.
Alta also served well, coming up with 12 ace serves. Phipps aced three serves, Brooke Schroeder three and Cameron two.
Hinkeldey added two blocks, while libero Amy Huseman finished with seven digs. Cameron and Hammer added four digs each.
St. Mary's was led by senior Colleen Smith, who finished with six set assists, two kills and two blocks.
Second-year Panther coach Michelle Rubel said her team didn't play up to its potential.
"Alta did a great job of getting us running around the court and forcing us to make mistakes," she said. "They have a good team, but essentially, we beat ourselves.
"It is as though we are our toughest opponent. There haven't been many times this season when teams have seen us at our best for an entire match. Hopefully we'll get through this tough patch and really go after some upcoming teams."
The Schaller-Crestland volleyball team showed off its offensive power Monday night, dealing Northwest Conference rival Newell-Fonda a 3-0 loss in Newell.
The Wildcats had two players in double figures in kills and two more close to it in the 25-8, 25-19, 25-17 win.
Senior Ayla Ringgenberg, back at full strength after an injury sidelined her for the softball season, led the Wildcats with 13 kills on 20 of 25 hitting.
Kelli Carstensen added 12 kills on 22 of 25 attacks, while Jill Wedeking added eight kills and Andrea Cook six.
Veteran Schaller-Crestland setter Kayla Bihrer finished with 42 set assists, 15 of 15 serving and 11 digs. As a team, the Wildcats served 96 percent.
"Great teams like Schaller-Crestland will make you question yourselves and start pointing fingers," Newell-Fonda coach Craig Davis said. "To our girls' credit, they avoided that and just kept playing."
Sarah Culp had a nice all-around game for the Mustangs, finishing with 12 set assists, 100 percent serving, two kills and 11 digs.
Michelle Grau was busy in the back row with 19 digs, while senior Ashley Lussman added 13 digs, 100 percent serving, two kills and a block. Tiffany Parker led the N-F offense with five kills, adding ten digs and a block.
Sam Schaffer also recorded five kills, along with three blocks. Senior Hanna Reis added ten digs, and Tenaea Jeppeson finished with four kills and one block. Kelly Johnson was 11 for 11 at the service line and added two digs.
"Our girls had some positives happen and we need to focus on those," Davis said.
"We realize now we have some more things to work on. Our girls will come to practice to get better and will not back down."