DENISON - The best volleyball season by a Storm Lake team in over a decade came to a disappointing end on Monday night as the favored Tornadoes fell in a five game heartbreaker to the Monarchs of Denison-Schleswig 21-25, 25-23, 25-15, 20-25, and 12-15.
"What a disappointing loss," said Storm Lake head coach Kim Johnson. "We came out on fire and lead in the first game 14-5 and ended up losing it 21-25. We won the second game but I never felt we were really in rhythm."
The two teams traded leads and games the entire night in what was an extremely hard-fought contest between the two squads in Denison.
The Tornado attack was in top form for the regional opener led by Cassie Meylor's 24 kills on the night. Katie Blum was second with 14, and Courtney Lovetinsky was also in double digits in her final game with 11.
"We had some of the hardest hitting I have seen all year," said Johnson. "As a team, we collected 53 kills, which is a season high for one match."
Megan Thompson and Jordan Bauer did well to set up the hitters with 32 and 21 assists respectively.
"The most frustrating part of tonight was our serving," said Johnson. "Serving is usually one of our strongest points, but tonight it was a weakness. We missed a total of sixteen serves, which was just under 85% when we are usually served over 90%. That was what made the difference in the game."
Katie Goodchild led the Tornadoes at the service line going 26 for 28 with six aces against the Monarchs. Thompson was 23 for 23 with one ace.
The Tornadoes played a very strong defensive game Monday night as they were extremely active defensively, especially at the net where they totaled 16 blocks. Meylor led the squad with six while senior Lori Phanchone added five.
"I am proud of what this team has accomplished this year," said Johnson. "They worked hard and realized that in order to be successful, they had to play like a team and not as six individuals on the court. They never gave up or gave in and gave all they had until the last point was scored. It was an enjoyable season and one that many will remember. We have two seniors on this year's team (Lori Phanchone and Courtney Lovetinsky) that have contributed to the success of the team and the program. They have been great leaders and have lead on the court in a positive way. They will be missed next year."
The Tornadoes close out the season at 18-12 overall. Their 8-4 conference mark placed them third in the Lakes Conference this year.
Denison-Schleswig (9-18) advances to Thursday night's matchup against #3 Sioux City Bishop Heelan who topped Sergeant Bluff-Lutton 25-10, 25-8, 25-13.