WCHS wins battle of ranked teams in 5 grueling sets

ALGONA – Webster City just wasn’t ready to give up on its dream of winning a North Central Conference volleyball championship.

The Lynx will still need some help, but that door isn’t completely closed.

Refusing to give into the hostile crowd or an early deficit, 11th-ranked (Class 4A) Webster City fought for every point here last night and prevailed in a five-set marathon over No. 14 (3A) Algona, 19-25, 25-15, 25-19, 22-25, 15-12. The Lynx (19-5, 4-1 NCC) stayed just behind leader Iowa Falls-Alden in the race for the NCC crown.

The Cadets handed WCHS its one conference loss.

“Anytime you play in that gym you know they’re going to bring a decent crowd and they’re going to be loud, but the girls didn’t get rattled by any means,” WCHS head coach Jess Howard said. “Especially after that Iowa Falls match, being able to come back and beat a team like Algona – a good team with a good tradition – this was what we needed to build confidence going into the last half of the season.”

After dropping the opening set, WCHS rallied and controlled the second and third stanzas. The Lynx built a 7-2 lead early in the fourth before Algona (21-5, 4-2 NCC) came to life, and the Bulldogs eventually pulled ahead late.

Algona held a 7-5 advantage in the fifth set, but once again WCHS had the answer.

Senior all-state outside hitter Kaylee Schnathorst again was the Lynx offensive catalyst with 19 kills. But she got plenty of help, particularly from junior Molly Gilbert, who smacked 13. Morgan Gourley added eight and Hannah Myers finished with four.

“All of our hitters did a good job of being consistent when they went up there to swing,” Howard said. “The more we wore them down the harder it was for them to read where we were going with the ball.”

Gourley (27 digs) and Schnathorst (21) were all over the floor defensively as well. Libero Carly Jacobson came up with 12 digs.

Setters Gianna Gourley (24) and Ashley Price (21) combined to distribute 45 assists.

WCHS came up with just four service aces – two came from Morgan Gourley – but Howard says serve placement was key to keeping the Bulldogs out of their offense.

“We did a great job with our serving because it kept them on their toes,” Howard said. “They had to take a lot of passes off the net and they weren’t able to run their offense the way they wanted to run it.”

Up next for the Lynx is a road trip to Clarion on Tuesday to tackle Clarion-Goldfield at 7:30 p.m.