BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – It ended as it probably should have with Mediapolis senior Helaina Hillyard recording a kill from the center of the net.
The Class 2A fifth-ranked Bulldogs kept Fort Madison on its heels most of the night in a three-game 25-18, 25-13, 25-15 sweep on senior night at the Hound Dome.
Hillyard had 15 kills on the night as Fort Madison tried different schemes and players to neutralize who Head Coach Kent Bailey said was one of the better hitters in the state this year.
“What she does is a bit demoralizing because there’s nothing we can do to stop that,” Bailey said. “We need to figure out a way to keep a girl like that out of the system, because she can hit over every one of our girls.”
Fort Madison senior Jillian Wiseman was 15 of 19 hitting with 10 kills to lead Fort Madison at the net. Senior Jenna Jones was 10 of 11 serving with an ace, and junior Lauren Bailey went a perfect 8 of 8 serving and had 13 digs and nine assists for the Hounds.
Senior Gracie Pumphrey had 10 digs on the night. Senior Jada Sheppard had a dig and senior Maycee Featheringill was three of three hitting.
Mediapolis jumped out to a 15-7 lead in the first game before the Lady Hounds settled in. Junior Reyna Lampe reeled off three straight service points including an ace and Wiseman got a kill to pull within 7 at 16-9.
Fort Madison would capitalize on the momentum and go on a 10-2 run behind the serving of Bailey and Jones. The Bulldogs got a case of the yips as Hillyard missed three attacks long and right in a 5-point run with Jones serving to allow Fort Madison to close the gap to 16-17.
An error pushed the lead back to two before Wiseman shored up the following point at the net at 17-18. But three defensive errors and a Wiseman shot long gave Mediapolis a surge down the stretch. A kill by junior Josie Wolter put the first game in the Bulldogs’ pocket.
Mediapolis ran away with the second game with leads as much as nine. Hillyard would have four kills in the game and 5’11” Ruthie Jahn would put the game away 25-13 with a kill on game point.
Fort Madison tried to make a match of it in the third game holding several one point leads about halfway through the match. A Wiseman kill and then a big double block on Hillyard from Wiseman and sophomore Anna Link put Fort Madison up by two 12-10.
Hillyard would make amends in the next three points with a block and then back-to-back attacks that found the floor to put Mediapolis back up by one 13-12 and the Bulldogs would never look back.
Fort Madison would be outscored 13-3 the rest of the way and Hillyard’s final kill of the night sealed the deal 25-15.
“Mediapolis has six seniors so give them credit. They are very good and those kids have been playing together for a long time,” Kent Bailey said.
” I told our kids afterward, ‘You got to see one of the top hitters in the state there’.”
Bailey said he made some personnel changes in the third game to try and take Hillyard out of the system, and it worked until they adjusted midway through.
“Our kids battled. We had some hitting errors and made some mistakes and we have to figure out how to correct those things,” he said.
“We played ’em tough tonight. We dug up a lot of balls and made them work. Our issue was simply we didn’t score enough points.”
Fort Madison falls to 7-18 on the year, but still stands in second in the Southeast Conference and will go into Tuesday’s conference tourney as the No. 2 seed.