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Union falls short of State berth vs Clarion-Goldfield-Dows

November 3, 2018
CJ Eilers - Editor ( , Dysart Reporter

The Union volleyball squad saw their season come to an end as the competed against Clarion-Goldfield-Dows in the Region 4 Final on Monday, Oct. 30, falling to the Cowgirls 3-1 after a strong finish in the postseason.

Clarion-Goldfield-Dows (CGD) entered the matchup 26-8 after upsetting Iowa Falls-Alden on their home court last week, the same location they would meet Union for their matchup to determine who advanced to the State Tournament in Cedar Rapids on November 9.

"They had a big hitter on the outside who was really good," coach Brian Jesse said. "They played better defense than I thought they would. We had our chances, even though we didn't play our best match and they played one of there's tonight. That's what happens this time of year. If you don't bring your best game, the other team does."

Article Photos

Hannah Gates attempts a tip against the Clarion-Goldfield-Dows Cowgirls in Iowa Falls on Monday, Oct. 29. Gates had 17 assists as well as two kills of her own in her final match.

The first set saw both squads sizing one another up, with CGD staying on step ahead of the Knights as they struggled with serving and getting their offense together. After the Cowgirls took the first set 25-19, Union came ready for the second set with more firepower to pierce the stubborn CGD defense. Errors plagued the Cowgirls as the Knights flamed their lead to as much as ten points to take the second set 25-16. Tied 1-1, things appeared to be swinging in Union's direction. However, a competitive third set followed with the CGD defense returning to form.

"We had a great run that second set and had momentum going into that third set," Jesse said. "We couldn't seem to get points we normally can, so we came up short in that set. CGD got off to a good serving run and despite us swinging, nothing was going down."

As close as 15-14 at one point with the Cowgirls favored, kill errors and missed serves offset any attempts the Knights made to chip away at their opponent's lead. The tables suddenly turned back into CGD's favor as they took the third set 25-17 to go up two sets to one over the Knights.

"We missed some serves and we weren't as aggressive as we have been," Jesse said. "Little things can come back to bite you in a big match. I am happy with the way we continued to compete and the way we battled like we had through the season with injuries. We needed three good matches to make it to State and we got two and half."

The Knights faced elimination in the fourth set and played knowing their season was in jeopardy of ending. Both squads traded hard-earned points intially until a timely rally by the Knights put them up 11-8. Moving as far up as 19-15, the Cowgirls ended the match on a 10-3 run, including five straight points going to them. CGD took the fourth set 25-22 and the match 3-1 as they advanced to State for the second time in three years, a similar accomplishment the Knights had strived for.

"We had a pretty decent lineup out there, but again we couldn't get anything down," Jesse said. "If you're playing matches like this, you have to come up with plays to keep you in. We had a good run there, but we couldn't keep it up."

Jasmyn Bush did not disappoint in her final postseason game of her junior year, tallying 13 kills, 12 digs, three blocks and went 12 of 14 serving. Belle Weber posted 10 kills, six digs and went 19 of 20 serving in her second game back for the Knights. In their final games as Knights, the senior class also contributed heavily in the postseason, with this match being no exception. Megan Carty had 11 kills and three blocks, Jayden Jolley with seven kills and seven blocks, Cylie McNeal with six digs and went 11 of 13 serving, Allie Carty with 12 digs and three aces, and Hannah Gates with two kills, three digs and 17 assists.

"Our seniors have improved since last year and really picked their game up to the next level," Jesse said. "Jayden Jolley really improved her net play, Hannah improved her setting and mobility, Megan Carty was good for us this year despite being undersized and our defense with Allie Carty and Cylie McNeal improved their passing and serve receive. I'm very happy with what they did this season."

The Union Knights finished the 2018 season 29-15, including 6-1 in the NICL East. As a team, the Knights had season totals of 1228 kills (399 by Weber), 2315 successful serves (64 aces by Sophie Winkelpleck) 1284 digs (Bush and Allie Carty with 267 each) and 1101 assists (636 by Gates). The Knights were the champions of the Monticello tournament and swept fifth-ranked Center-Point Urbana to reach the Regional Final.

"The team kept getting better and better as the season as fought through adversity," Jesse said. "I'm proud of them for a darn good year. 29 wins, second in one of the toughest conferences in the state, beating a ranked CPU team, it shows we did a lot of good things."

Union are losing five seniors in their main rotation to graduation, as well as Chloe Heitmann, Kegan Clapp and Kayla Robb, who didn't see much time with varsity, but contributed by practicing with the team and competing with JV players. The squad will return a major offensive threat in Weber, who will likely reach 1,000 kills in her junior year. Bush will continue to be the do-it-all player for the Knights in her final season in 2019. Current sophomores Winkelpleck and Allie Driscol will see their roles expand next season, with freshman Lexi Nolan a potential starter as well.

"We have a lot of spots to fill next season with new pieces," Jesse said. "We'll need younger kids to step up and get better this winter. The pieces are there, but we'll have to see how bad they want it and what they'll do."

With returning pieces and JV players ready for their crack at the rotation, expect the Knights to remain competitive in the NICL and through weekend tournaments in 2019. Photos from Monday's game are available at



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