Too much firepower.
Iowa simply had way too much firepower in the third annual Iowa vs. Illinois Senior All-Star volleyball match at Lee Lohman Arena.
For the third year in a row, Iowa emerged victorious, this time in four sets. Iowa won 25-17, 18-25, 25-21, 25-21 Monday night.
The well-played match featured a bigger, stronger Iowa squad led by the likes of Pleasant Valley’s Elissa Moylan, Assumption’s Lindsay Stratman, Clinton’s Sarah Goldensoph and North Scott’s Alexis Hayes, all of whom took turns throughout the night smashing unreturnable kills against a game bunch from Illinois that simply was much smaller.
Both teams displayed plenty of skill on digs, hustle and blocks, but Iowa had a multitude of weapons.
“We knew we were going to be really good when we first practiced,” Moylan said. “We have really, really good hitters. We have the best hitters in the MAC, the best defense, the best setters. So we came in really confident.”
Illinois made Iowa work in all four sets. Illinois jumped to a 7-3 lead in the second set and using some good teamwork, Iowa errors and plenty of hustle, won that set 25-18.
“They’re a really good defensive team,” Moylan said. “They’re very scrappy and they can get anything up. They have a very good blocking team.”
Iowa didn’t always dominate or have an answer at the net, but instead just gradually wore Illinois down with smash after smash in between good volleys by both teams.
“I feel like we had a lot of strong hitters and blockers,” Goldensoph said.
“We had some really big hitters,” said Stratman, whose ferocious kills were difficult throughout the night for Illinois.
Winning at the net was one of the team's goals coming in, according to the Assumption senior.
“Just have a lot of fun with it,” Stratman said.
With three girls over 5-foot-10, Iowa's height advantage was evident and did not lack strength by any means.
“I feel like we did have an advantage, but they’re also very competitive,” Goldensoph said. “So that’s why they came back.”
Moline’s Molly Tauke credited Iowa with more than just firepower.
“I think they had a lot of energy coming into it,” she said. “We tried to pick up at the end, then we kind of lost it.”
Kewanee Wethersfield’s Charlotte Pillen felt the mix of players from several conferences might have hurt Illinois.
“It’s really hard playing with girls you haven’t played with before,” she said. “And we knew coming in we were the underdogs. But I think overall we played really well.”
But she also agreed the Iowa height and power was too much.
“They’re really good at their schools,” Pillen added. “And their schools are generally bigger schools. And I think their height played a big part, especially their blocking.”
The night was clearly fun for both teams as evidenced by both squads staying on the court long afterwards for pictures with teammates and conversations with parents and fans for the last time.
“We all came in just to have fun,” Moylan said. “It’s cool because we are always against each other. So it’s always fun to come together and play.”
“It’s awesome to end with a win because that was my last high school game,” Stratman added. “It’s fun to have the Iowa reputation stay alive.”