MONROE — Prairie City-Monroe head volleyball coach Mike Vittetoe knew what kind of challenge his Mustang team had when facing Class 3A No. 13 Nevada on Tuesday night.
The Cubs came into the match undefeated in Heart of Iowa Conference play and 26-9 overall. They have the top hitter in the conference and their three top hitters have at least 166 kills.
The goal, according to Vittetoe, was to make Nevada have to put away points and limit their own errors. That's exactly what PCM did for the first two sets, but the Cubs still walked away with a 25-14, 25-16, 25-8 road victory during HOIC action.
"We played about as well as well as we have all season in those first two sets," Vittetoe said. "We'd definitely have a few more wins if we played like that every night."
The Mustangs held leads in the first two sets, but Nevada shut down the momentum both times.
PCM led 8-7 in the opening set but was outscored 18-6 the rest of the way. Kacie Rewarts, who had a HOIC-best 360 kills coming into the match, had back-to-back kills to put the Cubs up 15-11.
Nevada, which came into the night with a HOIC-most 163 aces, ended the first set with consecutives aces to go up 1-0 in the match.
"The goal was to make them have to beat us by hitting the ball in play," Vittetoe said. "We wanted to keep the ball in play and not make errors."
For the most part, PCM was able to do that in the first two sets. The Mustangs (5-20 overall, 1-4 in the HOIC) tied the second set at 7-all after a kill by junior Jacki Vos. Bella Stone's ace moments later gave the home team a 10-7 advantage.
The Mustangs stayed in front 13-10, but Nevada used a 10-0 run to pull away with ease. Vittetoe called two timouts during that stretch, but Nevada would not be denied.
"Overall, I was pleased with the way we played," Vittetoe said. "They beat us tonight because they were the better team. We didn't beat ourselves. We played point for point for a while and had some leads. That was good to see."
Kills by Vos and junior Celeste Wagaman and an ace by junior Lilli Baird kept the Mustangs close, but the Cubs closed out the set with four in a row.
Nevada (27-9, 5-0) controlled the third set after another even start. Rewarts and Wagaman traded blows at the net to keep it at 3-all early. A pair of kills by Wagaman kept the Mustangs close, the second one trimming the Cubs' lead to 8-5.
The Cubs took over from there, outscoring the Mustangs 17-3 the rest of the way.
"They are a good team," Vittetoe said. "They are a top-three team that we play this season and they have an elite hitter. We are getting there. We are looking more like a volleyball team. Serve receive is much better than it was earlier in the season."
Wagaman finished with five kills and Vos added four kills. Both hitters were 5-of-5 in serving.
Sophomore Claire Wilson tallied five digs and two aces, senior Shelby Voeller chipped in seven assists in her return from injury and junior Bella Stone had two assists and two digs. Senior Chloe Inskeep had three digs, while senior Meghan Kinnamon and sophomore Chelsea Bird both tallied two digs.
The Mustangs were 32-of-34 in serves. Stone was 7-of-7 and Wilson was 6-of-6. Baird served up a pair of aces.
PCM has two more regular-season matches to play before beginning Class 3A regional play. The Mustangs will have to beat Nevada on the road at 7 p.m. on Oct. 23 to advance in the postseason as pairings were announced Tuesday night.
"Tonight is the intensity that we need to bring every game," Vittetoe said. "We have seen glimpses of it this season and hopefully we can play like that to finish the season. We are making progress. We are trying to play our best volleyball at the end of the season."
PCM plays Roland-Story at 6:30 p.m. next Tuesday in Story City before hosting South Hamilton at 7 p.m. on Oct. 17 in Monroe.