BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – It was a two clipboard night for head coach Kent Bailey’s Bloodhound volleyball team.
Bailey, who’s been known to toss a clipboard or two in his day, sensed a let down with the Bloodhounds in the first and third games and called a couple timeouts to right the ship and the Hounds went on to down visiting Washington 25-13, 25-8, 25-19 to move to 3-0 in the conference.
FMHS jumped out to a quick 10-4 lead in game one behind some sparkling serving from Kaeli Hutson. The senior reeled off six straight serves and got some timely kills from senior Olivia Williams. Senior Jassmine Bass had a block and then followed up with a kill in the following action to give the Hounds a 7-3 lead. Williams then put in back-to-back kills on short rallies to push the lead.
Washington cut into the lead on back-to-back attack errors from junior Jillian Wiseman and Hutson allowing the Demons to get within four at 13-0. Wiseman had a kill from the center of the floor to push the Hounds up by five and, after the two teams traded points, senior Josie Pumphrey recorded a couple back-to-back aces to give the Hounds some breathing room.
At 20-12, Gracie Pumphrey rattled off five straight serves with a couple of dinks from the Hounds’ frontline to soft spots in the Demons back court. Williams got called for a net violation at 24-13 to end the rally, but Bass capped the game with a kill on the next Washington service.
The Hounds rolled through the second game on Gracie Pumphrey’s run of 13 straight service points. During the run from 13-5 to 20-5, the Hounds only registered one offensive score as the Demons struggled to get the ball back in play with seven long errors on attacks. Washington got a kill at 24-5 to stop the run, and rolled off three straight, but Williams, who was 18-21 attacking with eleven kills on the night, put an end to the second game.
Bailey had seen enough in the third game with the Hounds down 5-6 after a missed serve by Gracie Pumphrey and called a time out. The Demons then got four straight from junior Addison Six with a couple kills from Samantha Farmer to push the Demons’ lead to 9-6.
Washington was able to extend the lead to five at 14-9. Braxtyn McGhghy broke the run with a kill to give the ball back to the Hounds. Josie Pumphrey, who’s serving 93% on the season, ripped off three straight and McGhghy had another kill from the center to cut the Demons’ lead to two at 13-15. Williams erred on her next attack, but Bass cleaned up the Demons’ next serve with a kill to tie the game at 16.
Fort Madison would trail only one more time in the game at 18-19 when Six had back-to-back kills. Williams answered to tie it at 19 and the Hounds went unscathed the rest of the way behind two kills each from Hutson and Wiseman.
The Bloodhounds moved back into the top 15 in Class 4A after dropping out last week. The Hounds are now 10-4 on the season with all losses coming in high-caliber early season tournaments.
“I think we played fairly well and stayed together as a team, but we kind of fell apart due to some missed serves,” Williams said after the game.
But she said with the Fairfield win behind them, the Hound should be in decent shape to win the conference.
“We expected a tough game from Fairfield, but now since we’ve beaten them once, we should come out on top of the conference.”
Wiseman, who went 16-19 with 11 kills and three blocks, said the Hounds may have been looking past Washington especially with the large win in the second game.
“We kind of came into this game knowing that we were going to win,” she said. “That’s one of the reasons why we weren’t pumped up. We thought we should have breezed through this. I feel like we thought we could get away with playing just through the motions and win.”
Bailey agreed saying the team lost focus at several points and has to play with purpose.
“We had a lack of focus and we missed serves. When you miss three serves in your first four…we’re a 95% serving team,” Bailey said. “We were missing spots and this isn’t the team we’re thinking about. When you think about the teams down the road, you gotta hit spots, You have to go back with a purpose every time you serve.”
He said the woes in the third game were domino effects of the poor serving.
“We started out with three missed serves and every time we missed one it seemed there was an error to follow,” he said. “You don’t take a team for granted, and we did that after that big win in the second game.”
The Hounds are off until Tuesday when they host Keokuk in another conference matchup.
Wiseman is currently seventh in the state in Class 4A with 101 kills and Hutson is 13th with 84 kills on the season. Josie Pumphrey is currently standing at sixth in the state serving with 117-126 for 92.9%. She’s first in the state in digs with 208 at 6.5 per set. Hutson is 6th with 125 digs. Sophomore Lauren Bailey is tied for tops in the state in assists with 262 in 32 games.
The freshmen won their match 25-5, 25-9 and the junior varsity won 25-20, 25-14.