13 IS UNLUCKY: Boone pulls regional upset, sends Lynx packing

WEBSTER CITY – Boone junior Mariah McPartland was clueless about just how big a role she played in the match-deciding set last night inside the WCHS gymnasium.

She didn’t care about the statistics. She didn’t care if she was the one that grabbed the headlines. All she wanted was the win.

She got the win.

And the adulation.

McPartland, a 6-foot-2 junior tower in the middle, notched 10 points on eight kills and two blocks in the fifth set to propel Boone to an upset-victory over 13th-ranked Webster City – 25-21, 16-25, 25-21, 26-28, 17-15 – in a Class 4A Region 5 semifinal that took two hours to complete.

McPartland blasted four kills and came up with a solo snuff during the initial seven points of the set to help the Toreadors (25-18) build a 6-1 advantage and they never trailed.

“I had absolutely no idea (about the statistics). I was just trying to get a side-out every single time,” an overjoyed McPartland said after receiving hugs from just about every Boone fan in attendance. “For me, I didn’t pay attention to the score at all; I just played it point by point.”

McPartland – third in 4A with 374 kills entering the marathon – finished with 32 kills and seven blocks. Her mental toughness – and that of every one of her teammates – prevented Boone from falling apart after WCHS (24-10) saved four match points at the tail end of the fourth set and four more in the fifth.

“We all just believed in each other and made it happen,” McPartland said. “This means the world to us because we worked so hard to get here.”

Down 2-1, WCHS trailed 24-21 in the fourth set before rallying. Kaylee Schnathorst skimmed the back line with one of her 19 kills to ignite the rally, and a point later she lunged and pushed the ball into an open area of the court down the sideline to keep the season alive.

Mikaleh McCoy eventually forced the fifth set with a solo block.

But just as it did all night, Boone opened the fifth with a flurry, thanks in large part to McPartland. The Toreadors scored the initial point in all five sets, including a 6-0 run to start the opener and a 3-0 spurt in Set No. 5.

Slow starts, along with troubles hitting over the Toreadors’ height, contributed greatly to the Lynx season-ending loss.

“Our start in all five (sets) was not where we needed to be,” WCHS head coach Jess Howard said. “We weren’t able to come out with any of the first points and it really does set the tone … it forced us to dig out of holes.

“Blocking wise they got into our head a little bit when we were swinging and it caused us to not be aggressive all the time.”

McPartland’s seventh kill of the fifth set gave Boone a 14-10 cushion, but once again WCHS had the answer and eventually got it to 14-all on a kill from Schnathorst.

McPartland’s final kill of the stanza off a short set put the Toreadors up for good.

“She was on her game and she was making the most of every set she got,” Howard said of McPartland. “We did what we could to pop it back up, but she just won a lot of those battles.”

Morgan Gourley rattled off 12 kills and a team-high 38 digs in defeat. She had five kills in the fifth set.

Molly Gilbert contributed 15 kills and 19 digs; Hannah Myers chipped in 10 kills and a team-best seven blocks, giving her a 4A-leading 86 on the season. Schnathorst also had 23 digs.

WCHS took 183 swings at net, yet finished with just 58 kills against 34 errors. Yes, Boone’s height played a part, but so too did its relentless pursuit of every ball that came on its side of the net.

“They did a great job of keeping the ball in play,” Howard said. “It wasn’t always pretty coming back at us, but it was always coming back at us and they forced us to make mistakes.”

Last night’s match was the end of the line for seniors Schnathorst, Gourley and setter Ashley Price, who distributed 25 assists. They were key players in a pair of North Central Conference championships.

“They put in a lot of time for us and did everything we asked of them,” Howard said. “They’ve done a great job over the last four years and they’ll be greatly missed.”

Boone advanced to Tuesday’s regional final in Clear Lake where sixth-ranked and defending state champion Charles City (38-6) awaits. The Comets tossed Fort Dodge aside in three sets last night.