NEW SHARON — When Pella Christian head coach Cindy Nikkel and the Eagles walked out of the Newton gym last Tuesday, she was worried about her team’s ability to serve and receive serve. They worked on it the rest of the week, and it paid off Saturday.
The Eagles won five matches, including a 21-7, 21-18 victory over Grinnell in the championship match to win the North Mahaska Invitational. Pella Christian defeated Lynnville-Sully, 21-11, 21-16, then had a three-set match against HLV, winning 16-21, 21-11, 16-14.
Pella Christian beat the tournament host, North Mahaska, 21-16, 21-18. The Eagles posted a 21-18, 21-14 win over Sigourney.
“We did solve the serve/serve-receive problems. Even more, aggressive serving and blocked, along with strong libero defense turned the ship around on our
season this weekend,” Nikkel said. “Plus its great to have two of our starters back at full strength.”
Nikkel is talking of seniors Lauren Jungling and Logan De Graaf. She said the two led the team well on Saturday. Jungling returns to help with the setting duties for the team. She had 29 set assists for the tournament, plus made 11 kills at the net. Abby Pleima was credited with 22 assists.
De Graaf pounded down 16 kills and put up four of the team’s eight solo blocks on the day. She had four assisted blocks. Becca Gritters led the net attack with 25 kills. Hannah Beltman delivered 13 kills, and had two solo blocks and six assisted blocks.
Christa Veenstra had 10 kills along with one solo block and six assisted blocks for the Eagles. Laura Nicholson was credited with six assisted blocks.
Libero Alyssa Starkey cleared 35 digs in the five-match run for the Eagles. De Graaf had 26 digs, while Gritters made 19 digs. Pleima had 14 digs, and Julia Dykstra made 12 digs.
At the service line, the Eagles were 182-for-211 in the tournament. Against HLV, the team had 12 aces serves led by Jungling’s 12-of-13 service stint with three aces.
Jungling had 12 aces serves for the tournament, and Pleima delivered 10 aces. Starkey served seven aces, followed by De Graaf with four, Gritters with three, Veenstra and Rachel Ver Meer with two each, and Dykstra with one.
The Eagles improved to 7-11 on the season. They host Oskaloosa Tuesday in Little Hawkeye Conference play, then prepare for their home tournament this coming Saturday.