SOLON– Mount Vernon was ranked No. 6 in Class 3A; West Delaware was ranked eighth in 4A.
How would the Solon Lady Spartans handle two tough teams, one a longtime rival, in one week?
Apparently, just fine.
Solon’s varsity volleyball team blew through both of its ranked opponents last week, solidifying its grasp on the championship of the regular season WaMaC East.
The Lady Spartans swept Mount Vernon, 25-17, 27-25, 25-22, then dropped a game to West Delaware before taking control, 23-25, 25-21, 25-12, 25-18.
“I felt that even with tight scores, we were really in control throughout the match, despite letting them climb back in the second set,” said Solon coach Peter Gustin of the Mount Vernon match. “They are well coached and never gave up when we tried to pull away.”
Kelsey Hinrichs helped lead the Lady Spartans with 15 kills, 10 digs and three service aces. Solon had seven aces and 13 blocks against Mount Vernon, led by Kelsey Cave with four. Cave also had an efficient 14 kills and two aces. Taylor Nearad served 17-17 with one ace.
Emma Rickels had 43 assists and Rylee Smith had 15 digs.
“They are a shorter team, and we knew from scouting them that they would bring one of the tougher defenses our hitters had seen,” Gustin said. “They provided a great challenge for us in that aspect, and we responded well to it.”
Two days later, the Lady Spartans used a monster game at the net to put away West Delaware. Solon had 60 kills on the night, led by Jordan Smith with 20.
But West Delaware took the first game, 23-25.
“We missed five serves in the first set, all at inconvenient times, so we struggled to find any sort of rhythm whatsoever,” Gustin noted. “After set one, our offense was on fire. We spread the ball around successfully and I believe the middle blockers really struggled to get out to the pins against us. Our serving became aggressive and consistent, causing their serve receive to struggle. We took advantage of the free balls and executed with a quick tempo.”
The Lady Spartans finished with their best kill efficiency of the season, Gustin said, led by Jordan Smith, who was a “juggernaut for us at the net.”
Hinrichs added 14 kills and Cave had 10, while Jordan Runge pitched in with nine.
Solon had only five total blocks on the night, but added eight aces from service. Rylee Smith had two aces, as did Nearad. Rickels led with 45 assists and 11 digs.
“Our seniors showed great leadership and really stepped up when we needed a crucial point,” Gustin stated. “We shifted our transition defense and the back row commanded the game for us while the hitters took care of the rest.”
After the two big wins, the Lady Spartans participated in the Durant Invitational, losing 1-2 to Muscatine, but defeating Davenport West, Davenport Assumption, Durant-Bennett and Mid-Prairie by 2-0 scores.
Next up is the WaMaC tournament, with pool play Tuesday in Center Point, and bracket play Thursday in Mount Vernon.
Then Solon will have a two-week layoff while it waits for the Class 4A regionals. The Lady Spartans will host either Newton or Pella Thursday, Oct. 25, after a first-round bye. The regional final will be Tuesday, Oct. 30, at Victor.