MONROE — NFL Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells famously said, “You are what your record says you are.”
While that may be true in some or even most instances, records meant nothing on Thursday night, when Prairie City-Monroe’s volleyball team pushed Heart of Iowa Conference foes Roland-Story to the limit.
PCM has had some tough luck losses this season, and although the Mustangs did not get a win over the Norse in their final home match of the season, their play was indicative of what they have been working towards, according to first-year coach Mollie Keitges. R-S won in straight sets 25-21, 25-15, 27-25.
“I’m really proud of the girls,” Keitges said. “They played with intensity through most of the match, and that’s a very good team. We played aggressive, which I think is a big, big step for us because sometimes we get timid and back down against those better teams. I’m very proud of them. They played very hard.”
R-S opened the match with two straight points before a kill by Lexi Kain put the Mustangs on the board. A Norse kill attempt landed wide to tie things up at two. R-S fought to take a 5-3 lead, and the teams went back and forth for the next few points. Big kills by Abbi Gilson and Courtney Van Houweling kept the Mustangs within two. R-S rallied to take a 12-6 lean, but the Mustangs fought back, scoring four straight points highlighted by a Gilson tip at the net.
The Norse put up four straight points right back, taking a 16-10 lead, and they carried that momentum to a 20-12 edge. A few tough rallies later, and the Norse had taken a 22-13 lead. PCM continued to rally from behind. Cassidy Van Veen was serving when the Mustangs rolled off seven consecutive points to pull within 22-20, but R-S closed out the set, winning 25-21.
Errors were the story for the Norse early in the second set. PCM took a 5-3 lead despite not getting a kill. Tied at five, Kayla Jennings logged the first kill for the Mustangs, putting them up one. PCM and R-S traded points with Kain adding a kill in the process to make it 9-8. The Mustangs got behind 17-13, and some strong Norse serves put them up 23-15. From there, they were able to close out the set with a 25-15 win.
Set No. 3 had the PCM and the visiting R-S crowds rocking the gym in Monroe. The teams were locked up in a tight one early, and with Kain serving, PCM pulled within two points at 9-7. Down, 12-8 Emma Williams hit a kill followed by a strong serve by Van Veen to make it 12-10. Gilson and Van Houweling brought the team all the way back to tie at 13-13. R-S rallied for five straight, forcing Keitges to call a timeout.
PCM came out with a renewed intensity after the break, rolling off four straight points and tying the set on an ace by Jennings. PCM took a 20-19 when R-S went into the net. The Norse tied it back up at 20 on the next point. When R-S took a 22-21 lead, Keitges called for another breather. R-S looked poised to close out the set, serving up 24-21, but PCM’s crowd would not let the Mustangs quits, spurring on its team to four straight points, serving for the set. Roland-Story’s Anna Himan took over from there, scoring the match’s final three points.
Despite the loss, PCM put up a great fight against one of the best teams in the conference, and that fact was not lost on Keitges.
“That was a great way to end the conference. From start to finish, we definitely improved and made some big strides. I’m glad they played hard to finish off the conference season,” she said.
PCM will end its regular season with a tournament on Saturday in Fairfield. Keitges will expect nothing less than the effort her squad put forth against the Norse.
“I just told them to play with that kind of intensity that we played with tonight all day on Saturday,” Keitges said. “Last weekend at our tournament, we lacked that kind of intensity most of the day. So, I challenged them to play with the kind of intensity they played with tonight all day on Saturday.”
After that, the Mustangs gear up for the regional match against Bondurant-Farrar on Oct. 28.
“I am looking forward to the regional match. Their coach is actually a good friend of mine, and they’re going to be well coached,” Keitges said. “They’re good volleyball players. He’s got a good club program going. For this group of girls, they’re athletic, and we have certainly improved a lot from the beginning of the year. So, it will be fun to see how we look and how far we’ve come from beginning to end.”