Photo by Jeff Yoder
Your Prep Sports
SOLON – Mount Vernon coach Maggie Willems entered Tuesday’s regional semifinal rematch with Solon confident her team could avenge a regular season loss to its Highway 1 rival.
Even with that confidence Willems was caught off guard by the Mustangs performance on Tuesday.
Class 3A ninth-ranked Mount Vernon pulled away late to win the opening set and never let Solon get on track in a stunning 25-20, 25-10, 25-9 sweep of the Spartans in a Region 5 semifinal in Solon.
“I stepped in this gym thinking we would win however I honestly did not think it would be in the fashion that it was,” Willems said. “They just couldn’t put things together after set one.”
The win was a stark contrast to the regular season meeting between the two WAMAC rivals last month.
Solon made the plays late in a 26-24, 25-23, 28-26 sweep in Mount Vernon on September 4.
The postseason rematch was all Mustangs.
Mount Vernon (22-18) had five players with at least four kills and finished with a 38-18 edge in kills while advancing to the Region 5 title game.
Solon ended its season 22-18.
“I did not see this coming, not at all,” Solon coach Ferin said. “We just psyched ourselves out after the first set.
Senior Rory Light had all of her match-high 10 kills in the final two sets as Mount Vernon completed the sweep with ease.
The win was the fifth in the last six matches for the Mustangs which will be seeking a sixth state tournament appearance in seven seasons on Monday when it faces Des Moines Christian (25-7) in the regional title game.
“If you look at our first match this season they were six points better than us,” Willems said. At that point in the season you tell yourself if you are going to have another opportunity to play them you have to be six points better than them in October and that is really our program philosophy is to play our best volleyball in October and you can see that our kids are doing that.”
Solon scored the first three points of the match and on back-to-back kills by Rachael Nelson and Lauren Schrock and an ace block by Schrock.
Mount Vernon took a 10-6 lead but Solon scored five of the next six points spurred by a kill and an ace block by senior middle Kate Benzing to pull even at 11.
It was tied at 16-all before Mount Vernon took the lead for good on back-to-back kills by senior Annie Rhomberg.
Solon trailed just 18-17 following a Benzing kill but the Mustangs scored the next four points and never let Solon get closer than four points the rest of the way.
The second set was all Mustangs.
Mount Vernon used a 9-0 run to build a 14-3 and then closed out a 25-10 win with six straight points.
“The first set wasn’t bad we just had a few more errors,” Ferin said. “I thought we were blocking well, we had good blocking stats but great hitting stats but not terrible but the second set we got so rattled we could never figure it out.”
The fourth set was more of the same.
Mount Vernon jumped to a 7-2 lead with a five-point run and built the lead to 16-5.
“We couldn’t block and we had so many hitting errors, so many,” Ferin said. “We served great, we did some things well but we had so many errors.”
Rhomberg added nine kills while Natalie Welch had seven kills for the Mustangs.
“Our goal was to play confident, when you play confident you don’t back off and I think our kids were able to do that all match long,” Willems said. “I think we got better as the match went on.”
Schrock led Solon with seven kills while Nelson had five kills and Benzing and Elli Becicka each had two.
“Our seniors, they are just the face of Solon volleyball,” Ferin said. “Their leadership is going to be really hard to fill.”
Lauren Schrock 7-0-1, Kate Benzing 2-0-1, Rachael Nelson 5-0-1, Taylor Noonan 1-0-1, Elli Becicka 2-0-0, Katie Yi 1-0-2, Team 18-0-6.
Assists – Rachael Nelson 6, Kennedy Bombei 6
Madi Cranston 1-0-0, Rory Light 10-0-1, Rachel Axtell 1-0-0, Summer Brand 1-0-0, Camryn Ellison 4-1-1, Annie Rhomberg 9-0-1, Ella Brase 4-3-0, Mazie Rubner 1-0-0, Natalie Welch 7-0-1, Lauren Ryan 0-2-0, Team 38-6-4.
Assists – Ella Brase 12, Summer Brand 10