This season has not necessarily turned out the way that the Bettendorf or Davenport Central girls volleyball teams hoped for.
But both teams showed the heart and fight that they are both capable of during a five-set thriller at Bettendorf High School on Monday night. The Bulldogs edged out the last game to capture a 13-25, 25-18, 25-18, 22-25, 15-13 win in Mississippi Athletic Conference action.
Fittingly on the Bulldogs’ Senior Night, it was Bettendorf’s Allyson Grothusen that led the way for the hosts and helped seal the decisive fifth set. Grothusen had four of her team-high 19 kills in the final game and also had key serving runs throughout the match. Grothusen’s ace was the final point of the match after both teams went back-and-forth during the final set.
“This is what we expected from Central and we knew that it was going to be a tough match so we had to dig down deep,” Grothusen said. “It was great to pull this out and it was a really good win on Senior Night. I have a lot of good memories with this team and program. It’s so much fun to play with this team.”
The Blue Devils, as they have done many times this season, came out blazing behind hitters Kalayah Serrano and Raina Smith. Both had five kills to lead Central (6-11 overall, 3-5 MAC) but also got help from Kami Knutsen, Miya Wilkins, Lily Campbell and Destiny Jones, who dropped key kills. The Blue Devils dominated at the net to easily win the first set.
“The biggest thing I liked was our energy,” Central coach Janelle Hester said of her team’s early play. “Even when something went wrong, we didn’t put our heads down. That is a big step for us.”
Grothusen and Breanna VerMeer helped steady the ship for Bettendorf in the second set. Each had four kills and VerMeer, in particular, was big. The junior had her kills during a key run to help Bettendorf pull away.
Another Bettendorf junior was key in the third set. Middle hitter Maesa Harris recorded five kills and had a pair of aces to help Bettendorf get out to the 2-1 edge. The impressive thing about Harris is her ability to get off the floor quickly. Listed at 5-foot-10 inches, Harris does not typically get a running start to get her height at the net.
“She has been a great addition to the team this year,” Grothusen said of Harris. “She keeps everyone hyped up on the bench and the court and makes things fun. She is really quick and can hit really good shots. She is a powerhouse.”
Raina Smith practically willed the Blue Devils to the fifth set as the high-flying hitter had eight of her match-high 26 kills in the fourth set. The Bulldogs actually led 16-14 in the fourth game but Smith served the next five points, including a pair of aces to give Central the edge it needed and eventually the visitors held on. Nevaeh Camp also was big for the Blue Devils with three kills down the stretch.
But Bettendorf got some key play in the fifth game from Claudia Johnson (two blocks) and Kaalyn Petersen (three kills) to go along Grothusen’s and VerMeer’s play at the net to snag the win. Fellow Bulldog seniors Erin McQuillen (32 digs) and Emily Sharkey (39 assists, 19 digs) also helped end their regular-season home schedule on a high note.
“We had a lot of contributions from different players and that was nice to see,” Bettendorf coach Diane Lichtenberg said. “There were a lot of exciting rallies and some great digs and efforts on the court from both teams. I hope that we really go with this win because we had some great efforts. We are trying to get more people involved in the offense. I am hoping we can carry this momentum through the rest of the season.”