The Lady Mustang volleyball team has been on a mission this season to improve and has some lofty goals set to accomplish. One of those goals is to win the South Central Conference and take down whatever team is in their way. After scoring a 3-2 win over Knoxville last week, Davis County is now 2-0 in conference play and is poised to do well with matches against Albia, Clarke, Centerville and Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont left on their schedule.

Davis County didn’t play well against a young Knoxville team. The match was played on Knoxville’s home court, which has proven to be a tough place for Davis County to play in recent years.

After losing the first two sets by scores of 25-20 and 25-23, Davis County turned things around and won the third set 25-23. They beat the Panthers 25-20 in the fourth set and held off Knoxville in the final set to secure the 15-13 victory.

At this point in the season, Davis County and Albia are both 2-0 and lead the conference race. Those two teams met in action on Tuesday night, Sept. 14.

Davis County struggled early with a younger Knoxville team that couldn’t get their offense set up well enough to hit the ball cleanly. Knoxville was a scrappy team that kept Davis County off balance for much of the night.

The Lady Mustangs struggled with nearly every aspect of their game early. Serve receive was a bit of a challenge. Digging up balls was tough as Knoxville caught the Lady Mustangs a bit flat-footed much of the night. Passing wasn’t as crisp compared to past matches, which also forced setter Chloe Fetcho scrambling after balls to get it to the hitters.

Despite the struggles on the court, Davis County still managed to keep the sets close and kept battling with Knoxville for every point they could get.

Ella Porter and Kallie Greiner sparked the Lady Mustangs early with some nice kills at the net. Davis County started out with the early lead in this opening set, but some questionable line calls gave Knoxville the serve back and helped the Panthers gain some momentum. Midway through the set, the Panthers battled back to an 11-11 tie.

A bad serve and a poor set from Davis County helped the Panthers take the lead soon after that. Errant kills hit by the Davis County front line also didn’t help as Knoxville kept the score close.

Kills from Kallie Greiner and Sophia Young late helped Davis County cut Knoxville lead to 21-20. The Panthers took advantage of two Lady Mustang mistakes to spark a five-point run for the 25-20 win.

Davis County continued to struggle in the second set but despite those struggles, the score and the competition remained close. The two teams traded kills and points early as the Panthers took a 6-5 lead. Knoxville then set out on a 10-3 scoring run using two ace serves and several kills to gain that advantage.

This set turned into a set of scoring runs as both teams scored in bunches using mistakes and hard hitting kills to gain those points. At one point, Davis County trailed 21-11 and it looked as though the night might end quickly.

Knoxville miscues led to a scoring run for Davis County that put them right back in the hunt. Greiner had a strong kill to help build momentum. Stephyn Wilfawn and Kayla Joos each had scores at the net. Joos surprised the Knoxville defense with a push of the ball that fell inside the 10-foot line.

Davis County continued with aggressive play. The Lady Mustangs began to force Knoxville to make mistakes with their passing and defense. Knoxville also hit several balls into the net which helped Davis County tie the score at 23-23. Knoxville managed to win the second set 25-23 on a block attempt that went out of bounds.

Knoxville came out strong in the third set and built an 8-2 lead. Davis County just couldn’t get things going like they wanted, but eventually the team chemistry clicked and things began to fall into place.

Young started a rally with an ace serve. Greiner and Young each had scores at the net Haven Schooley added an ace serve and the Lady Mustangs were battling back.

Knoxville built a 15-8 lead before Davis County really got things going. Joos put down a strong kill and then added an ace serve for a couple of quick scores. Greiner added a kill and then the Lady Mustang defense managed to get Knoxville’s offense out of sync. Several free balls were coming back across the net and the Knoxville hitters just couldn’t find their arm swings on the ball.

Kills from Wilfawn and Joos later put Davis County on top 21-20. The play at the net seemed to get better as the set went on. Confidence was building and eventually, the hard hitting Lady Mustangs were back. Davis County won the third set 25-23.

As the fourth set started Davis County gained the momentum early. With each solid hit, Davis County got another confidence boost. The girls began to have fun on the court and the play steadily improved.

The key to getting the win in the third set was to get Knoxville out of sync. Once Davis County secured a couple of scoring runs, Knoxville lost focus and didn’t play well.

Davis County continued with that strategy in the fourth set and it was working. Even though the score remained close, Knoxville just wasn’t playing as well as they had in the previous sets. Several unforced errors by the Panthers late in the fourth set led to a Lady Mustang 25-20 win.

As the game entered the fifth and deciding set, Knoxville came out focused and played well early. Ace serves and kills at the net led to points and an early lead. Knoxville’s play quickly changed as Davis County just continued to play its style of volleyball and eventually force the Panthers to make their own mistakes.

Joos and Young each had some strong kills at the net that put Knoxville back on its heels. Sydney Utt and Wilfawn then took over the net duties when the rotation circled around. Those two girls stepped up their game and attacked the Knoxville defense. Knoxville wasn’t expecting the strong play from those two girls and struggled to handle balls coming at them. Davis County overcame an 11-8 deficit with an 8-2 scoring run. That gave Davis County the 15-13 victory and the 3-2 match win as well.

“That match was intense. We really showed determination and perseverance through those last three sets. I think we came away from that night with more than a win, but also a sense of strength and a taste of what we can really do as a team,” said Kara Greiner after the victory.

“In order to call yourself a team, you have to have trust in your teammates and also in yourself. Every single person has a role on this team. Tuesday night really showed us what we are capable of, and that is just the beginning,’ said Young.

“I’m incredibly proud of this team’s determination. They work extremely well together, and they all contribute in some way. This was a big match for us. Knoxville has been at the top of our conference for quite some time, and we knew that we had the ability to beat them this year,” said Coach Brooke Mason.

“The first two sets weren’t great, but we’ve figured out how to battle through those tough sets and make the changes necessary to be successful. Kallie Greiner had a great match at the net. She led us with 17 kills and played well at the net defensively. Our other three main hitters, Stephyn, Sophia, and Kayla, fought hard for us, too. They combined for 33 kills on the night. Kara Greiner led us with 24 digs and came in clutch for us more than once against some tough Knoxville hitters,” Mason said.

These sets were close, and in the fifth set we were down 8-11, at one point, which is when some teams start to panic or play it safe. These girls have too much confidence in themselves and each other to let that happen. Coming back from two sets back is evidence enough for that,” she said. “I’m excited to see what we accomplish over the next few weeks.”

Serving—Kayla Joos, 18-20, 1 ace; Haven Schooley, 18-21, 1 ace; Sophia Young, 18-19; Chloe Fetcho, 16-17; Kara Greiner, 15-16; Maddie Wagler, 9-12 and Cadan VanLaningham 3-3.

Hitting—Kallie Greiner, 36-43, 17 kills; Young, 37-43, 14 kills; Stephyn Wilfawn, 44-49; 11 kills; Joos, 25-30, 8 kills; Sydney Utt, 5-6, 2 kills; Kara Greiner, 4-4, 1 kill; Ella Porter, 2-2, 1 kill and Briley Lough, 2-3.

Assists—Fetcho, 42; Utt, 3; Wagler, 1; Joos, 1 and Young, 1.

Digs—Kara Greiner, 24; Young, 17; Fetcho, 16; Schooley, 9; Lough, 9; Joos, 6; VanLaningham, 4; Kallie Greiner, 3; Wagler, 2; Utt, 2 and Wilfawn, 1.

Blocks—Fetcho, 1; Kallie Greiner, 1 and Joos, 1.