MIFFLIN — The Iowa–Grant volleyball team is making great strides.
Last week the Panthers won a pair of conference matches to remain in a tie for second place in the Southwestern Wisconsin Activities League, then won five straight matches on Saturday to win their own eight-team tournament.
After rallying for a gritty 17–25, 26–24, 15–13 win over Belleville in the semifinals, Coach Marla Simon’s Panthers held off SWAL rival Mineral Point 25–19, 20–25, 15–10 in the championship match.
The Pointers (17–4, 4–1 SWAL), who are tied with I–G in the conference standings, handed the Panthers (12–3, 4–1) their only conference loss of the season on Sept. 1.
“To win our own tourney is always sweet,” said Simon. “And, the way we held our own all day was great to see. The kids were pretty resilient and very much a team effort by all. Overall, I’m very pleased with the team and their efforts on Saturday. This is a tough stretch with us and I hope they are becoming more and more confident in each other and this team.”
In the finals senior setter Taylor Liddicoat and senior outside hitter Emma Liddicoat connected for 14 kills. Taylor Liddicoat passed out 25 assists in the win. Senior Jessica Pluemer served up four aces and freshman Olivia Liddicoat — who was recently moved up to varsity — added three aces.
“It was just a great team effort by those on the court and on the bench,” added Simon.
Olivia Liddicoat made her varsity debut in Iowa–Gran’t comeback win over Belleville in the semifinals.
“Belleville was extremely tough to find a hole with our hitting, as they kept the ball up very well,” said Simon. “We dropped the first set in this match, but we were not getting too rattled anymore by this but it’s still not fun to be in a hole. We won a close second set, 26–24, but we were struggling in serve receive so I went with Olivia to help with that, and she did a very nice job in her debut out there. She had three kills that set and made some nice defensive plays. Maranda McCarthy, our libero, also had a nice match ending up with eight digs and also served well.”
Iowa–Grant opened the day with a 25–23, 25–18 sweep of New Glarus, then needed a comeback to get past Highland 24–26, 25–20, 15–13.
“I thought our match versus Highland could have gone their way pretty easily, but strong serving by Jess and Emma helped in the later stretches of that match,” said Simon. “I think if we drop this match our day is quite different.”
I–G closed out pool play with a 25–20, 25–19 sweep of Dodgeville.
Junior Katie Olson led the Panthers with 10 kills in the match, Emma Liddicoat added eight.
“Taking Dodgeville in two sets was a good match for us and showed we rebounded well after just playing three sets with Highland,” said Simon.
Emma Liddcoat led the Panthers on Saturday with 48 kills, 29 digs and eight aces in five matches.
Olson finished with 33 kills, while Pluemer added 19 kills and led the team with 15 aces and six blocks. Taylor Liddicoat passed out 139 assists and had 17 kills.
Last Tuesday, Iowa–Grant swept Boscobel 25–13, 25–19, 25–9. Emma Liddicoat slammed 10 kills in the easy win. Olson served up five of the Panthers’ 18 aces.
Thursday, Iowa–Grant scored a key 25–22, 25–22, 17–25, 25–17 victory over defending WIAA Division 4 state runner-up Southwestern (7–3, 3–2 SWAL).
Emma Liddicoat led the Panthers with 17 kills and 10 digs. Taylor Liddicoat at 38 assists and seven kills.
“This was a big win for us, to beat their program who has been very strong in the past few years,” said Simon. “There were some really tights sets and we even had to battle back late in set one. This win was a big confidence booster.”
Iowa–Grant overcame a late 21–20 deficit, winning the opening set on a kill and a block by Pluemer. Carley Rider went on a 5–0 serving run early in the second set to give I–G a 12–5 lead. Emma Liddicoat had five kills in the fourth set to help close out the victory.
Iowa–Grant returned to action Tuesday night with a home match against SWAL-leading Cuba City (11–11–1, 4–0 SWAL) and will next travel to Mineral Point Thursday night to begin the second half of conference schedule.
Iowa–Grant 3, Boscobel 0
(from Tuesday, Sept. 13 @ Boscobel)
Iowa–Grant 25 25 25
Boscobel 13 19 9
Iowa–Grant stat leaders
Kills: Emma Liddicoat 10, Katie Olson 6, Shae McIntyre 5. Blocks: Jessica Pluemer 2, Elana Winders 1. Assists: Taylor Liddicoat 30. Aces: Olson 5, Pluemer 4, McIntyre 3, T. Liddicoat 3. Digs: E. Liddicoat 5, Maranda McCarthy 3.
Iowa–Grant 3, S’western 1
(from Thursday, Sept. 15 @ Livingston)
Southwestern 22 22 25 15
Iowa–Grant 25 25 17 25
Iowa–Grant stat leaders
Kills: Emma Liddicoat 17, Taylor Liddicoat 7, Jessica Pluemer 6, Shae McIntyre 5. Blocks: Pluemer 7, McIntyre 4, Elana Winders 4. Assists: Taylor Liddicoat 38. Aces: Katie Olson 3. Digs: Olson 13, E. Liddicoat 10, Maranda McCarty 6, T. Liddicoat 6.
(from Saturday, Sept. 17 @ Iowa–Grant)
Championship: Iowa–Grant def. Mineral Point 25–19, 20–25, 15–10
3rd-place match: Dodgeville def. Belleville 20–25, 25–19, 15–11
Semifinals: Iowa–Grant def. Belleville 17–25, 26–24, 15–13
Mineral Point def. Dodgeville 25–16, 25–15
Pool A: Iowa–Grant 3–0, Dodgeville 2–1, New Glarus 1–2, Highland 0–3
Pool B: Belleville 3–0, Mineral Point 2–1, Portage 1–2, Seneca 0–3
Iowa–Grant pool play match scores
Iowa–Grant def. New Glarus 25–23, 25–18
Iowa–Grant def. Highland 24–26, 25–20, 15–13
Iowa–Grant def. Dodgeville 25–20, 25–19
Iowa–Grant stat leaders
Kills: Emma Liddicoat 48, Katie Olson 33, Jessica Pluemer 19, Taylor Liddicoat 17. Blocks: Pluemer 6, Shea McIntyre 6. Assists: Taylor Liddicoat 139. Aces: Pluemer 15, E. Liddicoat 8. Digs: E. Liddicoat 29, Maranda McCarthy 22, Olson 15.