COUNCIL BLUFFS — Council Bluffs Lewis Central showed how hard it can smack a volleyball. Council Bluffs St. Albert showed how hard it can work to keep a ball in play.
The result was an entertaining Hawkeye Ten Conference opener that left both squads feeling optimistic about the rest of the season.
The bigger hitters prevailed Tuesday night as the Iowa Class 4-A No. 10 Titans fended off 2-A No. 6 St. Albert 23-25, 25-18, 25-22, 25-22 in a league and city clash at Lewis Central. Reghan Coyle pounded 26 kills while fellow senior Abby Bergsten slammed 17 to highlight a seesaw contest.
Coyle sent missile after missile onto the St. Albert side of the net. No longer a co-setter like she was last year, the 6-footer has been able to focus exclusively on hitting during her final prep season — and with resounding success.
“When I’m back row, I’m not running around everywhere trying to set,” Coyle said. “Maybe I get to rest a little bit for when I go back to the front row.”
St. Albert (3-4, 0-1 Hawk-10) took control of the first set thanks to nine unanswered points. Senior Chloe Meyer served three aces during the surge and Alli Wettengel added three of her team-leading 22 kills to help the Saintes open a 17-12 edge. L.C. drew within 24-23 on a service error before a Meyer kill to put the Saintes up in the match.
But Lewis Central (5-4, 1-0) managed the big runs to close out each of the final three sets. Leading 18-17 in the second, it ran off five straight and seven of the last eight. St. Albert got as close as 22-21 in the third before a Coyle kill and pair of St. Albert misfires gave the set to the hosts.
The fourth was the most dramatic. Each side traded seven consecutive points, with a serve into the net putting Lewis Central ahead 23-22. Madyson Hamblin followed with an ace, and Coyle blasted one to the hardwood, setting off a celebration among a blue-clad student section dressed up for “Beach Night.”
“A game like this, where it’s a hometown rivalry, it’s all about emotions,” Lewis Central coach Dennis South said. “We didn’t have the emotion; they had the emotion. They were ready for us and wanted to play.”
St. Albert coach Angie Lantz said her group showed marked improvement from its season opener against CB Abraham Lincoln five days earlier. A back row, led by libero Kendall Biggs and Kori Lester, kept balls alive while others became more comfortable in new roles. Grace Wettengel chipped in nine kills while Chloe Meyer and setter Matti Munger each had five.
Lewis Central played its first home match after making long weekend trips to Ames and Iowa City. It also beat St. Albert in four sets last year in the Saintes’ Hawk-10 debut.
“We’ve been counting down since forever, it seems like, to play at home,” Coyle said. “Today was finally the day. During summer stuff, everyone had a countdown on their phone, like ‘Oh, only 42 more days.’ ”
CB St. Albert (3-4, 0-1)...........25 18 22 22
CB Lewis Central (5-4, 1-0)......23 25 25 25
SA (kills-aces-blocks): Kendall Biggs 0-0-0, Grace Wettengel 9-0-0, Kori Lester 0-0-0, Kaitlyn Pearce 3-0-1, Matti Munger 5-2-2, Alexis Petry 0-0-0, Alli Wettengel 22-2-3, Chloe Meyer 5-4-1, Emily Rindone 3-0-0.
LC: Madyson Hamblin 0-1-0, Kaci Hohenthaner 0-1-2, Emily Albertsen 4-1-4, Reghan Coyle 26-1-3, Molly Mundt 3-0-1, Natalie Patten 0-0-0, Kassie Larsen 4-0-2, Abby Bergsten 17-2-0.
Set assists: SA, Munger 36, Biggs 1, Rindone 3. LC, Hohenthaner 47, Hamblin 1, Coyle 2.
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