Your Prep Sports
WEST BRANCH – With 11 days between matches the question for West Branch on Tuesday was if the Bears would come out sharp after a week of practice or rusty following its time away from competition.
The answer to that question came early.
West Branch opened the match with a seven-point run and rolled to a 25-10, 25-17, 25-16 over Cascade in a River Valley Conference cross-divisional match in West Branch.
It’s been forever since we played a real game and since then we’ve really focused on the fundamentals,” West Branch senior Iva Senio said. “We weren’t worrying so much about the competition and just doing things the correct way and improving in that way and I think that helped.”
Senio had a match-high 14 kills, 13 of which came in the first two sets, as West Branch earned its first win since August 27.
West Branch opened the season going 3-3 at its home invitational but dropped its next three matches to ranked opponents Clear Creek Amana, Solon and Mid-Prairie.
The Bears then went 11 days without a match, a stretch that was challenging at times but proved beneficial on Tuesday.
“Taking the week off was definitely hard because there were all these other teams playing and we were just practicing,” West Branch senior Ava Finley said. “It was an opportunity to work on the stuff that we needed to work on and learn from our first few games.”
West Branch snapped its three-match losing skid on Tuesday while improving to 4-6 on the season and 1-1 in RVC play.
Cascade dropped to 9-4 and 1-2 in conference action.
“Playing those good teams helped us and we were hanging with them so that gave us some confidence,” West Branch co-head coach Becky Hosier said. “I think that prepared us well.”
Coming off a week made up entirely of practice the Bears roared out of the gate on Tuesday.
Alyse Klinkkammer opened the match with an ace serve and junior Emily Coleman followed with an ace block that sparked a 7-0 run to start the match.
Senio had two of her six first-set kills during the string of seven consecutive points to open the match.
“She was in a slump at Mid-Prairie so tonight having her come out on fire was great,” Hosier said. “The girls feed off of her so when she is on we are all going to be on.”
West Branch never trailed in the opening set building a lead of 17-4 with another 7-0 burst that featured a kill and an ace serve from Senio.
The Bears finished with 11 ace serves as Klinkkammer had four and Finley added three.
“I thought we played a really good match,” Finley said. “We put everything into this game that we’ve been doing in practice and we played really well.”
West Branch broke open a 6-all tie in the second set with a 5-1 run and never trailed again on its way to a 25-17 win.
The Bears used a 5-0 run that featured a pair of Klinkkammer ace serves to take a 13-6 lead in the third set.
Senio led a West Branch attack that also got eight kills from Coleman, three from Kylie Pickett and two from Finley.
“Our hitter and setter connection was really good,” Finley said. “We worked on that a lot in practice along with serve receive those are two big parts of the game and I thought we were good with both of those.”
West Branch 25 25 25
Cascade 10 17 16
West Branch (Kills-aces-blocks)
Iva Senio 14-0-0, Kylie Pickett 3-1-1, Emily Coleman 8-0-1, Alyse Klinkkammer 1-4-0, Ava Finley 2-3-0, Alyssa Vargason 1-2-1, Totals 29-11-2.
Assists – Ava Finley 21
Corinne Rea 2-1-1, Kate Green 2-1-0, Alyssa Lux 0-1-0, Claudia Noonan 0-0-1, Addison Frake 2-1-0, Shelby Trumm 2-0-0, Brianna Koppes 3-0-0, Totals 11-4-2.
Assists – Claudia Noonan 6