ORANGE CITY, Iowa -- After losing to the defending Class 4A state champions Sergeant Bluff-Luton on Thursday, Western Christian had a short turnaround before playing at the Sioux County Pizza Ranch Tournament on Saturday at MOC-Floyd Valley.
The 2A defending state champion Wolfpack didn't feel they played to their full potential in the four-set loss to the Warriors, and had five more difficult matches staring them in the face on Saturday since all five teams at the tournament — MOC-Floyd Valley, Sioux Falls Christian, Unity Christian, Sioux Center and Boyden-Hull — were ranked.
Western Christian went 4-1 at the Sioux County tournament, claiming three of the victories in two sets. The Wolfpack's lone loss on the day was to Sioux Falls Christian, the top-ranked team in Class A in South Dakota and the defending state champions. The Wolfpack lost in three sets to Sioux Falls Christian and were tied at 15-15 in the final set.
"There was not a sleeper in the group," Western Christian coach Tammi Veerbeek said. "There wasn't a game where we could relax a bit. That's hard to do on a Saturday, maintain that intensity for that long in every match. To come out 4-1, I am happy with it."
Western Christian is 9-5 on the season now.
Sioux Falls Christian went 5-0 to win the tournament.
Unity went 3-2, MOC-Floyd Valley was 2-3, Sioux Center went 1-4 and Boyden-Hull was 0-5.
Western Christian beat Class 3A No. 9 MOC-Floyd Valley 21-19, 21-19, swept 3A No. 4 Unity Christian 21-10, 21-18, took down 3A No. 12 Sioux Center 21-19, 21-18 and defeated 2A No. 5 Boyden-Hull 24-22, 14-21, 15-10. Sioux Falls Christian beat the Wolfpack 21-16, 15-21, 18-16.
Veerbeek saw an improved 2A top-ranked Wolfpack squad just two days after the loss to SB-L.
"We had a good practice on Friday and we reflected on Thursday night and I think they were disappointed in the way they played," Veerbeek said. "It's one thing to get beat, it's one thing to not think you played to your potential. We all felt like we are better than that. We talked about energy and relentless pursuit of the ball and SB-L just didn't let the ball hit the floor. We need to bring that to the court and we are capable of that.
"I'm honestly, after a tough loss to SB-L, I am very happy with how we played today. We were points away from going 5-0 and winning it but Sioux Falls Christian, they are a very good team. I thought we made strides in the right direction today and that's what I want to see as a coach."
Madison Vis had 38 digs and six aces for the Wolfpack and Jaylin Van Dyken had 85 assists and 20 digs. Lydia Van Kley had 20 digs and Emma Westphal had 14 total blocks.
Stella Winterfeld led the offensive attack with 32 kills as she hit .241 and had 33 digs. Abby Verburg had 29 kills on a .274 hitting percentage. Sienna Moss hit .234 and had 23 kills.
After hitting .099 as a team on Thursday, the Wolfpack hit .219 on Saturday.
"The girls said they felt way better about today, too," Veerbeek said. "We are trying to build morale and confidence. We have a young team, not a lot of experience at this level and there is a lot of pressure that comes with Western Christian volleyball. We can't get away from that pressure so girls need to learn how to play with that pressure of being Western Christian.
"We are trying to still learn that but I thought today we responded really well. We had a lot of tight games but we found a way to win them. That's what I was happy to see, that we found a way to win those tight games."
The Knights came into the tournament missing three starters due to quarantining because of COVID-19. None of the three players have COVID-19, but they are currently in quarantine.
One of the players is senior Janie Schoonhoven, who was one of the Knights top attackers last season and has 15 kills in two matches this season. The other two are Josie Byl, who has nine digs on the season, and Lucy Zylstra, who had three kills and two blocks.
But the shorthanded Knights made some noise right away in the tournament as they took down city rival MOC-Floyd Valley 18-21, 21-19, 15-12 in the first match of the tournament.
"I thought our team was resilient today," Unity coach Patty Timmermans said. "We had new kids in new positions, we did some shifting with our lineup. I thought our girls adjusted very well. To start off the day with a win over MOC-Floyd Valley was huge for us and a big confidence booster for us. I think that helped us believe that we could take on these other teams throughout the day.
"The two teams we lost to are excellent teams year-in and year-out and even how we battled with them, I was pleased with that."
The Knights are now 5-2 on the season.
Unity went on to beat Boyden-Hull 21-16, 14-21, 15-12 and Sioux Center 14-21, 21-16, 15-12. The Knights two losses were to Western Christian and Sioux Falls Christian 21-16, 21-14.
"To have that grit and endurance to pull through those three-set matches, really dig deep and get that third one each time, that shows a lot of character," Timmermans said.
Gracie Schoonhoven had 34 kills on the day and Jenna Bouma had 18 with Tyra Schuiteman adding 16. The Knights hit .282 as a team as Emma Byker had 75 assists.
Schuiteman added 15 total blocks and Schoonhoven and Bouma each had 14 as Byker added nine. Schoonhoven also had 42 digs and Ana Sandbulte had 27 digs.
After the tough loss to Unity Christian, MOC-Floyd Valley woke up and started to play better on the 2-3 day.
"I was disappointed with how we came out. We came out like it's been a long week and it has been but it's been a long week for everyone so it's no excuse," MOC-Floyd Valley coach Kate Boersma said. "If we would've played as tough in the Unity match as we did in the Western match, I think we would've had them.
"I think we slowly built back up. Our schedule allowed for that. We still had to play hard but it allowed us to get our groove back."
MOC-Floyd Valley beat Sioux Center 24-22, 21-17 and took down Boyden-Hull 21-13, 21-18. The Dutch did lose a tight 21-19, 21-19 match to Western Christian and took Sioux Falls Christian to three sets in the 8-21, 21-17, 15-11 defeat.
"I will take losses against good teams. You learn a lot more about what you need to work on and what you need to do as a team," Boersma said. "I told the girls, it used to be enough to play with a tough team but we have to believe we can come out and beat teams like that. We have to earn every single one of them.
"That's what we talked about today. You have to start with an intensity. You can't just build intensity, you have to start with it."
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