IMS sends seniors off with win
KALONA — The Iowa Mennonite volleyball team dominated Columbus in the first set but had its hands full in the next two games on Senior Night.
IMS prevailed in three sets; 25-10, 25-20 and 25-19, for its fourth-straight win.
The Wildcats used solid serves to get out to leads in the second and third sets. It finished the night with eight aces, led by Columbus senior Heidi Duttlinger’s three aces.
“I thought Columbus gained some momentum with serving,” said IMS head coach Dwight Gingerich. “They lead the league in aces. They kind of had a wicked floater going and we had trouble seeing that.”
Duttlinger led her team with five kills and four digs.
Columbus led 7-1 in the second set, Before three serves from IMS senior Olivia Yutzy resulted in points that gave IMS its first lead of the game at 9-8.
“We were making two and three similar type errors in a row,” Gingerich said. “Those are some things we can’t keep doing. We have to adjust more quickly.”
“We are going to have to make adjustments better than we did tonight, come tournament time.”
From there it was a back-and-forth effort with ties at 12, 13, 19 and 20.
“We struggled to pass from their serves, but we battled that,” Gingerich said. “Late we kind of overcame that and made adjustments.”
Junior Hannah Miller killed off the game with five straight points from five serves. The game ended on a hitting error.
“Hannah Miller played solid tonight,” Gingerich said. “She is a right-side attacker, Playing relaxed and making some tremendous attacks. She is our secondary setter and has done a really nice job. She brings a lot of stability.”
IMS took its first lead in the third set at 12-11. It fell behind again before retaking the lead 15-14. Senior Casey Perez finished off a 6-0 run with five serves for the team’s largest lead of the game at six. From there a serving error made it 25-19.
Perez had game-highs of four aces and 31 assists.
“She was doing a great job of making them move to pass,” Gingerich said. “She’s got that aggressiveness. You want to be to accurate and aggressive. It is a tough blend. She was serving to spots to make them move and create difficult angles.”
Perez successfully took up the mantle from her two older sisters who also donned the IMS jersey.
“She grew up playing,” Gingerich said. “She has two sisters that were setters for us. They were all-conference setters and played on teams that went to state. She is finishing up her career in solid fashion.”
IMS look poised to post a sweep after a resounding 25-10 win in the first set.
A Yutzy kill made it 11-5. Junior Demi Brezina gave her team a double-digit lead at 20-8. Perez stretched the lead to 15 with three serves.
“We were clicking in set one,” Gingerich said. “That has been our tendency to relax after a solid set one win. I think when you win the first game by so much you become lax in making adjustments.”
Yutzy had a game-best 21 kills and had a .405 kill efficiency. She was perfect on serves going 12-of-12. She had 15 digs.
“Olivia has been tremendous for us,” Gingerich said. “Tonight she had a few hitting errors. But overall she has been consistent. Her kill efficiency was 2.93 coming into tonight, which she has gradually brought up from early in the season.”
The third senior on the team is Kristin Davis, who plays libero. She was second on the team with 11 digs in the game.
“Kristin Davis did really well for us defensively,” Gingerich said. “She does a good job of getting to spots in her libero role. A lot of what she is doing is being glue for our team. There is no glory in that sometimes.”
Gingerich coached all three players’ freshman and senior yearS after stepping away from the coaching ranks in the two years in between.
“It is a really big night,” Yutzy said. “Us three seniors have been playing since freshman year, so it is a lot of fun to get a big win tonight.”
Perez and Yutzy agreed what they will miss most is playing in front of fans in Kalona.
“IMS’s gym is not like anybody else’s,” Perez said. “It’s small but it has big heart. Our students, parents and the community supports us. It is a different atmosphere that nobody can match.”
IMS plays at the Washington Tourney on Saturday at 9 a.m.