COUNCIL BLUFFS — Every Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln player got on the volleyball court.
Two lopsided matches afforded Abraham Lincoln that luxury Thursday. Afterward, it fittingly celebrated a Missouri River Conference regular-season title that every member helped earn.
The Lynx swept their way past Sioux City West 25-8, 25-11 and Sioux City North 25-7, 25-20 in their own gym to claim their first MRC crown since 2007. Nine Abraham Lincoln players contributed at least two kills each during the afternoon quadrangular that also included CB Thomas Jefferson.
“It’s honestly a 12-girl effort — I think that’s what’s great about our team,” Abraham Lincoln first-year coach Brittany Ridenour said. “There’s no one that’s overlooked because we could not have gone this far and done this well without these 12 girls.”
The closest moments for A.L. (31-8, 6-0) came in the final set against North. Trailing 14-12, it took over with six straight points that included a Kelsey Johnson kill and two double blocks. A pair of Gayle Hattan kills brought the Stars (14-19, 3-3) within 18-16 before the Lynx closed out the win.
Abraham Lincoln’s two seniors — both four-year varsity players — enjoyed standout performances. Outside hitters Victoria Krohn and Delaney Bolton each totaled 13 kills between both matches. Bolton clinched the unbeaten league season with a slam off a North defender that ricocheted out of bounds.
“We’ve been working hard to have enough energy, and I think that helps in big games,” Bolton said. “We came to play. We didn’t stoop down or anything, but played a solid game.”
After traveling the state for much of the fall while playing in weekend tournaments, the Lynx were happy to make a little history in only their third home date of the season. They huddled briefly at midcourt afterward before taking some team photos.
“I don’t think it’s quite hit us yet,” Krohn said. “We know it’s a big deal, but mentally it’s like, ‘We got it. What’s the next thing we have to get?’ ”
The Lynx last claimed the MRC’s top spot when Ridenour and assistant coach Megan (Smyser) Wiese were seniors on the 2007 club. The head coach said the current group has found success with a deep bench and an offense that’s been steadily improving in recent weeks.
A diverse attack was on full display against Sioux City West. Krohn (seven kills) and Bolton (six) led the way, but setter Samantha Bohnet, Lauren Colpitts, Lauren Nahnsen and Johnson each added three. Kaitlyn Murphy and Hannah Hennings pounded home two kills apiece.
Back-row players like libero Bailee Gofta and Paige Wohlers even got in the scoring mix by combining for six aces. Against North, reserve middle Deana Roth notched a pair of kills while Krechele Brown converted an ace.
“It’s awesome,” Ridenour said. “I’m so proud of the girls and they earned it and deserved it. They worked hard for it this season. I told them we’re conference champs tonight, but we want to make that a double conference title with the tournament.”
Abraham Lincoln will be the top seed at that tourney, set for Oct. 24 at Sioux City East.
One motto the Lynx have adhered to this year — start fast, finish strong — has served them well so far. They ran the strategy to near perfection Sept. 17, when they snapped an 11-match slide to beat five-time defending MRC champ Sioux City Heelan in three sets. A.L. also went the distance against Sergeant Bluff-Luton before ultimately winning last month.
All of Abraham Lincoln’s six losses to Iowa schools this season have come against programs currently ranked No. 8 or higher in their respective classes.
“This isn’t something I’ve gotten to experience with this team before in all my years of high school,” Krohn said. “It’s a great thing to have my senior year. This is a big deal for us. I think we really came together as a team tonight.”
Sioux City West ............................ 8 11
Abraham Lincoln ............................ 25 25
SCW (kills-aces-blocks): Jessica Molden 1-0-0, Madison Jensen 1-0-0, Aleah Harker 0-1-0, Darrien Ford 5-0-0, Tanya Meyer 2-0-0, Brooke Smith 0-0-0, Autumn Schmidt 1-1-0, Rylee Rann 0-0-0.
AL: Samantha Bohnet 3-1-0, Bailee Gofta 0-4-0, Kaitlyn Murphy 2-0-1, Krechele Brown 0-0-0, Lauren Colpitts 3-0-0, Paige Wohlers 0-2-0, Victoria Krohn 7-0-1, Hannah Hennings 2-0-1, Kelsey Johnson 3-0-1, Delaney Bolton 6-2-0, Lauren Nahnsen 3-0-0, Deana Roth 0-0-0.
Set assists: SCW, Harker 5, Meyer 2, Smith 1, Jensen 1. AL, Bohnet 24, Gofta 2.
Sioux City North (14-19, 3-3) ............................ 7 20
Abraham Lincoln (31-8, 6-0) ............................ 25 25
SCN (kills-aces-blocks): Kaisha Billings 2-0-0, Gayle Hattan 3-0, Rae Hattan 1-1-0, Torianna Davenport 0-0-0, Mallory Guffy 0-0-0, Lauren Deiber 7-0-0, Sidney Valladolid 0-0-0.
AL: Samantha Bohnet 1-0-2, Bailee Gofta 0-1-0, Kaitlyn Murphy 0-0-0, Krechele Brown 0-1-0, Lauren Colpitts 1-0-1, Paige Wohlers 0-0-0, Deana Roth 2-0-0, Victoria Krohn 6-0-2, Hannah Hennings 2-0-0, Kelsey Johnson 5-2-2, Delaney Bolton 7-0-0, Lauren Nahnsen 0-0-0.
Set assists: SCN, Gayle Hattan 6, Valladolid 2. AL, Bohnet 19, Gofta 2.
T.J. earns first conference win
CB Thomas Jefferson picked up its first conference win of the year Thursday with a 25-23, 24-26, 15-7 win over Sioux City West. It began the quadrangular at A.L. with a 25-17, 25-14 setback to Sioux City North.
The Jackets (9-14, 1-5) responded to a tight second-set loss by finishing emphatically against West (3-23, 0-7). Coach Mike Bond said his players struggled to find a rhythm most of the afternoon until the final set.