MANNING, Iowa – If Tuesday was any indication, this Western Iowa Conference thing will suit IKM-Manning just fine.
The same could be said for this head coaching thing, when it comes to Missouri Valley rookie Kris Miller.
The Wolves’ first WIC volleyball match didn’t end in a victory, but it did feature nearly two hours of spirited play that can only benefit them in the grand scheme.
Missouri Valley, rated eighth in western Iowa (Class 2-A/1-A) by The World-Herald, got 19 kills from senior Rachelle Housh and outlasted WI No. 7 IKM-Manning 24-26, 25-23, 25-19, 24-26, 15-8 in Miller’s debut at a steamy IKM-Manning gymnasium.
IKM-Manning (2-4) was most recently in the Western Valley Conference. A move to the WIC puts it against more like-sized schools more consistently.
“I knew playing in this conference you have to be ready to play every single match, and be ready to play a five-game match,” IKM-Manning coach Kathy Lage said. “I said to the girls, ‘I know this outcome isn’t what you wanted, but this is where we’re at, and you just improve and the next time we go out and play, it will be different. We’ll be better for the whole experience.’ ”
Missouri Valley (7-2) had the edge in experience over the Wolves. Of the nine players in IKM-Manning’s rotation Tuesday, only four were ever in a varsity match last year. Of the seven regular contributors for the Lady Reds last year, five are back, including junior setter Baily Janssen, who turned in an outstanding match with 32 assists, six kills, two aces and two blocks.
After leading 17-13 and 23-22 in the fourth set, the Lady Reds missed an opportunity to close it out. But Janssen said they still felt confident heading to the fifth.
“(Coach) just kind of took control and said it was a sprint to 15,” Janssen said. “We just all stepped up and did it. I think it showed a lot, how we can fight through and everything.”
In the fifth set, Missouri Valley got a kill and an ace from Housh to lead 5-1. The visitors expanded it to 13-4 and closed it out on a double block by Housh and junior Kyra Skelton, who added 10 kills and eight total blocks.
Katelyn Schechinger, a 6-foot junior, had a match-high 23 kills for the Wolves.
“She gives us a go-to player,” Lage said.
An assistant at Missouri Valley for eight years, Miller said it’s been a smooth transition, because of her players.
“I think we have a lot of weapons,” Miller said. “I think our passing was spot on today. … They’re a great group of girls and they are so focused. There’s no quit in them.”
Missouri Valley (7-2) ............ 24 25 25 24 15
IKM-Manning (2-4) ............... 26 23 19 26 8
MV (kills-aces-blocks): Baily Janssen 6-2-2, Kyra Skelton 10-0-8, Kimiko Wagner 2-0-4, Rachelle Housh 19-5-3, Rebecca Taylo 1-1-1, Haley Stueve 9-2-1, Bailey Anderson 0-0-0.
IKMM: Ashley Nepper 1-1-0, Rylie Muhlbauer 7-1-0, Mackinze Brandt 3-0-2, Sarah Burnette 3-1-0, Katelyn Schechinger 23-2-2, Emily Ceminsky 7-0-2, Jez Schechinger 0-0-0, Aly Stadtlander 1-2-0, Andy Nulle 0-0-0, Sarae Evans 3-0-1, Cristyn Eischeid 1-0-0.
Set assists: MV, Janssen 32, Taylo 3; IKMM, Stadtlander 21, Nepper 16, Evans 2, Brandt 1.