BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – The Bloodhound volleyball team kicks off its regional action Tuesday night with a matchup against Southeast Conference rival Fairfield.
The 24-7 Bloodhounds got a bye in the first round of Class 4A Region 7 regional action and now face a Trojan team that is 24-8 on the year, but two of those losses are to the Bloodhounds in three-set affairs.
Head Coach Kent Bailey is all too aware of the pitfalls of playing the same team multiple times.
“It’s always tough to play a team three times,” Bailey said. “You know they’re going to show up ready to play. We know them and they know us. But it’s regionals and everyone’s going to put their best effort on the court.”
FMHS will be looking to senior leadership to carry them deep into the regional and possibly to state. Senior Amber Dilsaver stands head and shoulders, figuratively and statistically, above the rest in conference play this year. Dilsaver had 311 kills on the season, 84 ahead of the next girl in line, which happens to be Fairfield junior Alison Godwin. Kara Jeffrey is second on the Trojans with 174 kills to lead them offensively. Dilsaver is also 2nd in the conference in blocks with 72 on the year.
The Bloodhounds counter with Jillian Wiseman and Kaeli Hutson who have combined for 235 kills.
“We have two of the best middle hitters in the conference in Amber and Jillian but everyone’s gonna have to come ready to play. You look at that team and they’ve been pretty consistent at 24-8. They have some pretty good volleyball players,” Bailey said.
Senior Leigh Johnson is tops in the conference and ranks ninth in Class 4A in getting the ball to middle and outside hitters. She has 727 assists on the year with the next closest in the loop at 400.
Bailey will be looking to Josie Pumphrey and Kamryn Bailey to keep the ball off the floor in the back court. Pumphrey, a junior, is second in the conference with 439 digs. Bailey has 261 and is fourth in the loop.
Kent Bailey said the team is battling a little soreness, but said the team, which just dropped out of the top 15 in Class 4A, has been working hard to get ready for the post season. The Hounds have gone 12 days without a game and lost their last two matches including an 0-2 loss to Class 1A 5th-ranked Holy Trinity and a 1-2 loss to Eddysville-Blakesburg, both at the Mediapolis Tournament on October 12.
“We’ve had some soreness but most of our kids have been playing. I think we’ve done the things we need to do to get prepared, but our kids have to realize at this time of the year that everyone is playing for the same thing and you’re going to have to work that much harder,” he said.
Game time starts at 7 p.m. at the Hound Dome.