COUNCIL BLUFFS — Council Bluffs Lewis Central didn’t play its most consistent volleyball Tuesday. But a few flashes of brilliance were enough for it to earn its most impressive win of the year.
Everything seemed to go the Titans’ way at times — then nothing at all. Yet Iowa Class 4-A No. 14 Lewis Central emerged from the seesaw match against Class 3-A No. 1 Carroll Kuemper with a 13-25, 25-10, 25-16, 13-25, 15-10 thriller to stay near the top of the Hawkeye Ten Conference.
“It was weird; there was no real close game,” Lewis Central senior Megan Driver said. “We either won or got killed. We haven’t really played a game like that before.”
The Titans (12-12, 6-1) improbably evened their overall record after a nightmare start to the fifth set. A Kuemper overpass landed just inside the back right corner before three straight errors and a kill by Kuemper’s Claire Ludwig put Lewis Central behind 7-2.
But Reghan Coyle countered by blasting one of her team-best nine kills. With Ludwig rotating to the back row and onto the bench — the senior led all players with 15 kills — Lewis Central ran off five in a row to tie the score.
It dropped only three points the rest of the way. Libero Hannah Dmyterko got a free-ball pass down for a fluke kill of her own before a Brenna Jones ace made it 11-9. Lewis Central took the final four points, with a Kaci Hohenthaner ace, a Driver kill and double block by Driver and Coyle providing the highlights.
“This team is incredibly talented, and I think if they believe in themselves and the talent they have, they’ll be fine at the end of the season,” Lewis Central coach Dennis South said. “We’ve kind of struggled with that talent all year. But what a game.”
Kuemper (19-2, 6-2) won its 24th consecutive set this fall with a lopsided opening frame. But the Knights got blitzed in the second, watching a 10-8 deficit dissolve into a 25-10 final.
Lewis Central found another decisive surge in the third, reeling off eight straight to go up 19-10. But Kuemper responded by jumping ahead 13-3 in the fourth and cruised to even the match.
“I’m not discouraged,” Kuemper coach Keith Stickrod said. “This was kind of a mystery night — they played good, we played good. I don’t even know if as a fan watching it was fantastic volleyball.”
The Knights lost for the second time this year after getting swept at 4-A No. 1 Harlan on Sept. 17. One problem Tuesday was allowing 18 aces while getting only six of its own. Patches of unforced errors also hurt Kuemper, especially while trying to gain a stranglehold on the match in the second set.
After Ludwig, Maria Dentlinger and Paige Overmohle each had eight kills while libero Karla Knobbe hung tough in the back row against balls coming from every direction.
Yet it wasn’t enough to make a happy return trip to Carroll.
“They got us out of system a lot with their serving,” Stickrod said. “When you’re out of system, you don’t get those attacks that you want.”
L.C. got big nights from less heralded players while solidifying its bid for finishing second in the Hawk-10. Sophomores Brenna Jones (six kills, four aces) and Emily Albertsen (four kills) each had big moments, as did junior Hannah Shea (five kills, four aces). Junior Abby Bergsten also added half a dozen terminations.
“I was nervous in the fifth set, but I knew that we had it,” Shea said. “We knew we had to win tonight. We knew we had to do our absolute best and that’s what we did.
“First we had it together, then we lost it, then we got momentum again. It was very exciting.”
The Titans entered in the midst of a 4-9 stretch, with six of those defeats coming against ranked foes. Their rugged schedule had been absent any notably victories — until Tuesday.
“I think we were just more pumped up from the beginning,” Driver said. “Normally we don’t get that excited if we make a point or something. This was kind of suspenseful for all of us. It brought us all together.
Carroll Kuemper (19-2, 6-2) 25 10 16 25 10
CB Lewis Central (12-12, 6-1) 13 25 25 13 15
CK (kills-aces-blocks): Hannah Macke 0-0-0, Karla Knobbe 0-2-0, Morgan Naberhaus 2-1-2, Taylor Boldt 0-0-0, Nicole Becker 5-0-0, Paige Overmohle 8-1-4, Claire Ludwig 15-2-3, Abby Derner 2-0-1, Maria Dentlinger 8-0-1.
LC: Madyson Hamblin 0-0-0, Kaci Hohenthaner 0-4-0, Emily Albertsen 4-0-1, Reghan Coyle 9-3-5, Hannah Dmyterko 1-0-0, Megan Driver 6-3-5, Hannah Shea 5-4-0, Brenna Jones 6-4-2, Abby Bergsten 6-0-1.
Set assists: CK, Naberhaus 27, Derner 2, Overmohle 1. LC, Coyle 18, Hohenthaner 14, Albertsen 1.