Prep Volleyball: West Beats City To Keep Spike

By Jeff Linder, Reporter

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By Grant Burkhardt

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Shockingly and blockingly, The Spike stays put.

Iowa City West got a double-double from sophomore Laynie Whitehead and capitalized on a sluggish effort by Class 5A third-ranked Iowa City High, sweeping Tuesday's Mississippi Valley Conference Mississippi Division volleyball match, 26-24, 25-22, 25-20, at West High School.

"We were so fired up for this one," Whitehead said. "They have a lot of power hitters, and we wanted to force them to start tipping."

The Women of Troy (14-9 overall, 4-1 division) retained The Spike -- the teams' traveling trophy -- by putting up a formidable block. West collected 10 blocks, many at crucial times.

Hannah Fairfield and Ally Disterhoft combined for three straight blocks early in the second game, sparking West on a run that provided separation. Then, Whitehead and Mollie Mason got into the act in Game 3.

"We really stress blocking," said West Coach Kathy Bresnahan. "It was nice to see our team grow up a little bit tonight."

West beat City High in an epic five-set match in last year's state final. Most of the Women of Troy graduated, and most of the Little Hawks returned. But injuries to two City all-staters leveled the playing field.

Michaela Nelson did not play due to a concussion, and Rachel Rinehart was limited after missing two weeks with a sprained knee.

"We didn't have our complete lineup, and they were able to camp out on our middle hitters a little bit," said City High Coach Craig Pitcher. "Give West credit. They came ready to play, and we just weren't all there."

City High (20-5, 4-1) had a set point in the first game at 24-23, but a hitting miscue by City preceded a kill and a block by Mollie Mason.

"We've really worked on closing our block through the last week," Mason said. "We knew this was going to be hard. To win in three straight, it's amazing."

The Little Hawks closed a seven-point deficit to 20-19 in the second set, but Mason provided three straight kills to give West daylight.

West led the third set from start to finish, building a 20-9 advantage before City closed with a too-little, two-late flourish.

Whitehead, a sophomore, posted 12 kills and 10 assists.

"She has to be great for us, or we don't have a chance," Bresnahan said. "She and Mason have to come through for us; they're the only ones that have much experience."

Mason added seven kills. Lizzy Klemme accumulated 16 assists.

Liz Hubing paced City High with 10 kills. Ruth Grace distributed 25 assists.

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