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Union shocks top-ranked Assumption in State comeback win

November 13, 2019
CJ Eilers - Editor (editor@dysartreporter.com) , Dysart Reporter

It was a duel of Knights as Union volleyball overcame a 2-0 deficit to upset 3A number one Davenport Assumption 3-2 in the State tournament on Wednesday, Nov. 13.

"That was a wild game, but we continued to battle as this team has made a trademark this season," coach Brian Jesse said. "We didn't get off to a very good start because of nerves and had a little head-hanging. However, we have good leaders that wouldn't let us stay down."

With the exception of senior Jasmyn Bush, the girls had never stepped on the court for a State match. Junior setter Allie Driscol had watched her sister play in two State tournaments for the Knights, reaching the finals in Union's last appearance at the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids.

Article Photos

Allie Driscol finished with 47 assists and reached 2,000 career assists as a Union Knight in their win over Davenport Assumption 3-2.

"Just watching Maggie and her teammates play here was so good," Driscol said. "She's been my model since the beginning and I knew I wanted to be down here just like right now."

Driscol and her teammates may have been taking in the atmosphere for a bit too long as the Knights quickly found themselves down 6-2 and eventually 18-11 to Assumption. Union struggled in their passing and their serving game, falling 25-15 against the top-ranked team in 3A. A spirited effort followed in the second set, yet the Knights weren't able to match the firepower of Assumption and fell 25-20.

"We've talked about going to State in practices a lot in the past few years," junior outside hitter Belle Weber said. "It's especially exciting considering we beat Dike to get here. In that first set, we were still taking it in as Jazz is the only one who's been here. We were definitely shook before we realized we needed to play our game."

Finally, it was time for a talk. The message: keep battling. The Knights had found themselves in dire positions before to reach their first State tournament since 2016. Battling was exactly what Union did as they took their first lead of the evening. Yet the battle continue as Assumption would later take a 24-22 lead. The Knights knocked out four straight points to take the third set.

"We knew we didn't want to be done after that second set," Weber said. "We were close with them most of the third set and decided we came to win, not just to take in the atmosphere."

Defensively, the Knights made some adjustments to relieve pressure off libero Sophie Winkelpleck and keep balls off the ground while offensively Bush came alive.

"We started serving more aggressive," Jesse said. "Through the first two sets, they were likely hitting about .400 against us. We talked about serving more aggressive because all their passes were finding the setter. [Assumption] is more diverse than us, more firepower in spots than us. Once we started getting them their system more, we could key our blocks out more. We also started playing better defensively that really seemed to give us a spark in that third set."

A late rally in the fourth set broke the game open, as the Knights won 25-21 behind Bush crushing the ball to reach 1,000 kills.

"When I looked up at the scoreboard and realized I had 11 kills, I just thought 'I did it' and rolled on," Bush said. "After the third set, we were like 'we did it, we got this and now we have to keep rolling. I surprise myself sometimes, but my body flowed with everything we did. We knew from the beginning we could win, and even being down 2-0 we knew who were and what we could do."

For the first time all morning, Assumption looked vulnerable as they were tied 2-2 and gassed from the tiring four sets.

"I don't know if they were getting tired physically, but mentally this match was wearing on them," Jesse said. "They knew they had match points on us. I've been there. It's hard to let go when you know you had an opportunity to be done and you couldn't get it done. They made us work in that fourth set when we slipped away, yet our girls came around when we needed them to."

A decisive fifth set await the Knights, yet the momentum was on their side of the court. Union took a 7-4 lead and never looked back, relying on Bush as their primary offensive weapon as Weber drew much of the defense to her. The senior had the final kill for Union as they took the final set 15-9, toppling the top-ranked Knights 3-2 and live another day.

"I want these young girls to enjoy the atmosphere," Jesse said. "Many of these girls are underclassmen and never know if you're coming back. Some of the best players in that state aren't down here. Things happen, so take advantage of the opportunity to make the most."

Bush tallied 26 kills and 15 digs in the win, followed by Weber with 14 kills and 15 digs. Lexi Nolan had nine kills and 13 digs while Winkelpleck finished with 14 digs.

"Lexi had some very timely kills for us," Jesse said. "Since we've gone back to her on the outside, she's cut down on her errors. She's not tall or big out there, but she always gets a good swing out there. Sam and Laura had timely kills and blocks for us. I kept telling Allie to slip into the middle when you can the defense was set on Belle."

Bush was not the only Knight to hit a milestone on the evening as Driscol hit 2,000 career assists on the court, finishing with 47 in the win.

"In the past years, I never got to set front row and I knew I'd have to work on my blocking and tips," Driscol said. "I've really been working hard to learn. In practice, we perfect our communication. Jazz and Belle can yell a set out to me and I can get it to them. They know I'll be there for them and get the set to them."

This comes after playing as a back row setter her previous two season alongside former Union standout Hannah Gates, yet this season was Driscol's alone.

"I challenged Allie to be better about three quarters of the way through the season," Jesse said. "I told her she's a good setter, but to go to the next level, she needed to be better. I feel she accepted the challenge, and sets the ball where it needs to. We're going to need another effort like this going forward."

The Knights will next face Mount Vernon in the State semifinals. The Knights and Mustangs are meeting for the third time this season, with the latter victorious in both matches.

"We'll strategize a little bit and get ready to go for tomorrow's match," Jesse said. "We'll need to start getting mentally ready for tomorrow."

Photos of Union's win over Davenport Assumption are available at www.flickr.com/photos/151817931@N05/albums/72157711768850337

 
 

 

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