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No. 6 Nevada goes 2-2 at Ames Invite

Nevada freshman Abby Stephenson goes up for a kill attempt during the Cubs’ season-opening match with Gilbert Aug. 27 in Huxley. The No. 6 Cubs swept the Tigers in three straight to get off to a 1-0 start in Heart of Iowa Conference play. PHOTO BY NIRMALENDU MAJUMDAR
Nevada freshman Abby Stephenson goes up for a kill attempt during the Cubs’ season-opening match with Gilbert Aug. 27 in Huxley. The No. 6 Cubs swept the Tigers in three straight to get off to a 1-0 start in Heart of Iowa Conference play. PHOTO BY NIRMALENDU MAJUMDAR

Cubs whip Gilbert in opener

AMES – The Nevada volleyball team split four matches at the competitive Ames Invitational Saturday at the Ames High School Gym.

Nevada, ranked sixth in Class 3A to open the season, came up short against two larger schools in Ankeny Centennial and Lewis Central. The Cubs picked up their victories against IKM and Mason City as their season record moved to 3-2 at the conclusion of the tournament.

Ankeny Centennial swept Nevada by scores of 21-12 and 21-15. Nevada struggled with its attack, finishing with a minus-.053 kill-efficiency rate, and the Cubs only had one ace serve in the match.

Kati Cassabaum had five kills and two blocks and Megan Pringnitz and Abby Stephenson each totaled two kills for Nevada in the loss. Pringnitz also had five digs and a 4 of 4 serving night and Stephenson recorded three digs and went 5 of 5 serving.

Emma Lodestein tacked on one kill, Michaela Matuska dished out six assists and picked up two blocks, Jessica Helton delivered eight digs and Erin Francis finished 7 of 7 serving with an ace and she also added four digs.

Nevada’s other pool play matches resulted in victories.

The Cubs easily swept Mason City by scores of 21-11 and 21-10. They had a .200 kill-efficiency rate with 17 kills and just eight errors in 45 attacks versus the Mohawks.

Pringnitz stepped up with seven kills, Matuska had 14 assists and two aces and Lodestein went 12 of 13 serving with four aces in the win. Cassabaum tacked on three kills and one block, Mara Rhodes finished with two blocks and one kill and Stephenson finished with eight digs, one kill and an ace.

Nevada won a dog fight against IKM. The Cubs won the opening set in a 23-31 squeaker, lost the second in a competitive 21-18 battle and then pulled off a tight 15-13 triumph in the rally game to claim the match.

Nevada delivered a .163 kill-efficiency rate with 27 kills and 14 errors in 80 attacks versus IKM. They also went 45 of 54 serving with seven aces and totaled 33 digs and seven blocks.

Stephenson turned in a terrific all-around match against IKM. She compiled nine digs, five kills, three blocks and two aces.

Cassabaum recorded seven kills and two blocks, Pringnitz and Rhodes finished with five kills apiece, Lodestein produced three kills and Alli Fey added two. Lodestein also went 11 of 14 serving with three aces.

Matuska handed out 21 assists and contributed eight digs versus IKM. She also went 8 of 8 serving with an ace.

Nevada wrapped up the tournament with a sluggish outing against Lewis Central. The Cubs were swept by score of 25-15 and 25-18.

Nevada’s kill-efficiency rate against Lewis Central was only .037. The Cubs did do a good job serving the ball in the loss as they went 34 of 35 with three aces.

Cassabaum and Pringnitz each tallied six kills in the loss. Cassabaum also had two blocks and Pringnitz finished with four digs and one ace.

Matuska came up with 12 assists and Helton tacked on eight digs in the loss. Helton was also the top Cub server after going 10 of 10 with an ace.

HUXLEY – Nevada opened the season with a strange match Aug. 27 as the Cubs had to travel to Huxley to score a Heart of Iowa Conference victory over archrival Gilbert.

The match was originally supposed to be a triangular with Nevada, Gilbert and Ballard. But a conflict with the schedule resulted in the Cubs just having to play the one match against Gilbert while the Tigers took on both Nevada and Ballard.

Nevada, ranked sixth in Class 3A, made the most of its sole match, sweeping the Tigers in three sets to get off to a 1-0 start in the HOIC.

“For our first match it was a little rough at times,” senior Cub outside hitter Megan Pringnitz said. “But I think overall we did really well.”

Nevada scored victories of 25-18, 25-16 and 25-18 over one of its top challengers to the HOIC title. The Cubs had a couple of sloppy periods during the match, but they always regrouped to keep the Tigers at arm’s length.

“We were a little nervous at the beginning,” Pringnitz said. “But then we just shook off the nerves, started hitting like we can and they started falling to the floor.”

Nevada had a .116 kill-efficiency rate and held Gilbert to a minus-.024 rate. The Cubs also served the ball better, finishing 66 of 72 with eight aces, compared to the Tigers’ 47 of 54 showing with four aces.

“We showed a few vulnerabilities; it was not the cleanest thing we’ve ever seen, but the girls got it done in three,” Nevada head coach James Brockway said. “I was proud of them.”

Brockway enters the season excited about the potential of his team.

The Cubs have to replace key seniors Danielle Thomsen, Victoria Johnston and Katie Tyler off last year’s HOIC champions. But Brockway is excited about the versatility of his returning players and the potential of his newcomers.

“We’re really deep this year,” Brockway said. “We say that every year, but it’s so true this year. We’ve got girls that were starters last year fighting for spots. It’s a legitimate battle. It’s tough on the girls individually, but it’s great for the team.”

Pringnitz will play a big part in bringing the team together this season as a senior leader. She is anxious to erase the memory from last year’s regional semifinal loss to Bondurant-Farrar that ended the Cubs’ goal for the second trip to state in school history.

“I have to fill Danielle’s shoes,” Pringnitz said. “I’ve been waiting for this. It’s my last year and I want to make it all count.”

Pringnitz and sophomore middle hitter Kati Cassabaum each had nine kills against Gilbert. Pringnitz showed a great all-around game in also leading the Cubs in digs with 14.

Sophomore Erin Francis stepped up with 12 digs and a 10 of 11 serving effort in her first varsity start. Senior libero Jessica Helton totaled four digs and she was the top Cub server by going 19 of 21 with four aces.

Emma Lodestein tacked on eight kills and three blocks to give Nevada a formidable one-two punch at middle hitter with Cassabaum. Freshman Abby Stephenson tacked on four kills and digs apiece at outside hitter and she went 13 of 15 serving with two aces; returning setter Michaela Matuska dished out 26 assists.

Molly Luzbetak and Alex Miner each had four kills for Gilbert. Luzbetak also went 15 of 15 serving with three aces, Miner tacked on three blocks, Katelyn Stearns tallied 13 digs and Yuliya Ivanytska contributed eight assists and six digs for the Tigers.

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