by Steve Peterson
Knowing this post-season was the finale for Head Coach Mollie Koopmans, the Akron-Westfield volleyball team came out and played an inspired First Set in the second round of the Class 1A volleyball regional against Remsen Union.
The Lady Westerners won Set One after a 13-3 lead, 25-18.
The Rockets were the determined team the final three sets, however, and advanced with a 3-1 win on Oct. 23. The Rockets won Set Two 25-16; won Set Three 25-17 and Set Four 25-21 to advance to a match up with Gehlen Catholic Oct. 26 at A-W.
“I told the girls before the start of the post-season and season. The seniors (Emily Miller and Haley Coyle) were the leaders. Sometimes it’s ‘seniors rule’ but on this team they made it clear everyone contributes,” said Koopmans. “The players gave me a scrapbook of memories for the season.”
Koopmans is a fourth and fifth grade combined classroom teacher at West Sioux Elementary School in Hawarden during the school day. She has been coaching with assistant Tammie Britt the last two seasons at A-W. The 2012-2013 season ended with a 12-11 overall record.
“We came out dominating,” said Koopmans of Set One.
Kayla Tindall started the match serving for A-W and had two aces in a 5-0 run. Dana Hedlund served for another five points for a 10-2 A-W lead, forcing a Rockets’ time-out.
The lead grew to 13-3 Lady Westerners before the Rockets mounted a comeback with an 11-5 run. Still A-W managed to stay ahead, with Bethany Eastman serving for the final three points including kills by Coyle and Eastman, for a 25-18 win.
The Lady Westerners appeared inspired by fans who decked out in everything-in-the-closet, “random” night, from sunglasses to sombreros.
Remsen Union was ready in Set Two. After a 3-3 tie, the Rockets took a 7-4 lead. It grew to 15-5 before an A-W time-out. A-W reached double digits with Jordan Hansen serving but the Rockets gained a 20-10 lead. A-W could not get closer than eight points after Remsen Union expanded the lead to 10 again at 23-13 en route to a 25-16 win.
The two teams battled on even terms in Set Three and A-W led 9-8 with Kortney Hedlund serving. Coyle served for three straight points and a 12-10 A-W lead. It grew to 15-11 on Tindall’s serving.
Remsen Union had other ideas, and rallied for a 17-17 tie. The Rockets scored the final 11 points of the set, led by senior Brittany Sudtelgte, to gain a 25-17 win.
The Rockets took an 11-7 lead midway through Set Four. A-W made it 16-13 on an ace by Eastman. A kill by Cali Westergard made it 19-18 Rockets.
But Remsen Union reached its first match point behind senior Brittany Weikel’s serves and a 24-18 lead.
A-W closed to 24-21 but a kill by Taylor Weiler ended the match.
“One of the hardest struggles in volleyball is serve receive. You have to determine what type of serve it is, top spin or floater,” said Koopmans.
A-W went down battling and the future looks bright for the next coach, said Koopmans.
Back next year for the volleyball team are juniors Eastman, Hansen, Dana Hedlund, and Tindall and sophomores Hansen, Kortney Hedlund, Oltmanns and Westergard.
A-W’s season ended with a better than .500 record. The Rockets moved on with a 14-8 mark.
Sudtelgte led the Rockets with nine kills. Weikel had seven, Weiler six and Courtney Loutsch had five. Loutsch and Sudtelgte were perfect in serving, 15-for-15 with one ace and 25-for-25-with five aces, respectively.
A-W was led by Miller with nine kills. Dana Hedlund had 17 sets. Hansen had 12 digs, Coyle eight, Kortney Hedlund six and Desi Oltmanns four.
Tindall was 16-for-22 serving with five aces. A-W totaled 12 aces, including three from Coyle; two by Dana Hedlund and one by Kortney Hedlund.
Statistics for the Lady Westerners:
Coyle: 1 kill, 10 attack attempts, 1 assist, 8 digs, 1 block assist, 1 total block, 10-for-14 serving, 3 aces; Eastman: 5 kills, 3 kill errors, 27 attack attempts, 1 block assist, 1 total block, 11-for-11 serving; Hansen, 1 kill error, 5 attack attempts, 12 digs, 5-for-7 serving, 1 ace; Dana Hedlund: 8 attack attempts, 17 assists, 2 digs, 1 block assist, 1 total block, 17-for-19 serving, 2 aces; Kortney Hedlund: 6 digs, 5-for-7 serving; 1 ace; Miller: 9 kills, 3 kill errors, 29 attack attempts, 1 assist, 1 dig; Oltmanns: 1 kill, 2 attack attempts, 4 digs; Tindall: 1 kill, 2 kill error, 13 attack attempts, 1 dig, 16-for-22 serving, 5 aces; Westergard: 2 kills, 8 attack attempts, 1 block assist, 1 total block. Team 19 kills, 9 kill errors, 102 attack attempts, 19 assists, 34 digs, 4 block assists, 4 total blocks, 64-for-80 serving, 0.800 percent, 12 aces.
Other regional scores included Gehlen Catholic winning 3-0 over River Valley and Central Lyon advancing with a 3-0 win over George-Little Rock. The regional final is Oct. 31 at Sioux Center.