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Shaken, but still strong

By Chris Umscheid
North Liberty Leader
CEDAR RAPIDS— The Iowa City West Women of Troy improved their 2011 record to 2-2 last Tuesday night, with a 3-1 victory over Cedar Rapids Xavier.
“We’re still a team in transition,” coach Kathy Bresnahan said, referring to the recent tragic loss of Caroline Found in an August moped accident. “My hat’s off to Kelley Fliehler.” Fliehler, a 5’9” junior who stepped up and took over Found’s spot as setter with 34 against the Saints. “She’s got big shoes to fill” Bresnahan added noting she “did a really nice job, she led the team.”
West easily disposed of Xavier 25-10 in the opener, quickly building a 6-3 lead and prompting the Saints to take a time out to regroup. An ace serve from sophomore Mollie Mason put West up 9-4, while an ace from senior Olivia Mekies made it 13-5. A kill by Mason made it 19-9 for West, an ace serve for game point by Olivia Fairfield sealed the win.
Shelly Stumpff opened game two with a kill, but the Saints battled back to a 4-3 lead, and a West timeout. A five-point run by the Saints led to another West timeout. The Women of Troy battled to put three more points on the board, but still trailed 12-6 and were down 15-8. A rally by West held the Saints at 16 while steadily putting points up. A Fairfield kill brought West to within one point, down 17-16. The momentum shifted as West took the lead to 22-18 and a Xavier timeout. Freshman Laynie Whitehead’s kill made it 24-20 and the Women of Troy held on for the 25-20 win.
Game three was a back and forth battle early on. A point by Shelly Stumpff broke a 10-all tie, but Xavier tied again at 11 and went on a five point run leading Bresnahan to call for timeout. Fairfield earned another kill, but the Saints put another three points up. West was down 21-14 when Stumpff put up a kill. A blown Xavier serve made it 21-17, another Stumpff attack brought West to a 21-18 deficit and a Saints’ timeout. A major block by Stumpff and Hannah Infelt netted the Women of Troy a key point, but Xavier held on for a 25-22 win, setting the stage for a fourth game.
West jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the fourth, but a trio of mistakes led to three points for the Saints. A Mason kill however made it 9-5 West. Again the Saints put up three in a row before the ladies in green scored on a Xavier kill error and on a block. A 14-8 West lead sent Xavier into a timeout. A huge block by Whitehead and Infelt made it 15-8; a pair of kills put the lead to 17-10. Stumpff tipped the ball over the net for a 19-10 advantage. Down 23-12, the Saints called for one last timeout, during which the West fans chanted “believe, believe, believe…” Their faith was rewarded as Bresnahan’s Bunch took the game 25-13.
“The big three (Stumpff, Fairfield and Anna Pashkova) really stepped up when they needed to tonight,” the coach said. But she saw some work yet to do. “We haven’t really shown we know how to win when pushed.”
Stumpff led West in kills with 15, Fairfield had 14, Mason put up eight, Infelt five, and one apiece were credited to Fliehler and Whitehead. Stumpff attempted a team-high 39 attacks, with 27 for Fairfield. Stumpff was big in digs with 14, while Pashkova and Mason had 13 each. Pashkova was perfect in serving with 25-25 and two aces; Stumpff was 13-16 but had seven aces on the night. Mekies went 12-12 with an ace, Mason made 13-13 with a pair of aces; and Fairfield was 16-16 with four aces.
“They’re shaken yet, but we’ve got a good team” Bresnahan said as her players filed out for the bus ride home.
The Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union put West at No. 7 in Class 4A, a drop from the third spot the week before.
The Women of Troy host the Iowa City West Extravaganza on Saturday, Sept. 10, starting at 9 a.m.