BY JOHN BOHNENKAMP
FORT MADISON – It’s a start.
Maybe it’s a little bit later than most other teams in the state, but Fort Madison High School’s volleyball team opened the season on Thursday night, falling to No. 3 (Class 1A) New London 25-13, 25-15, 25-16.
It will be an unpredictable fall season because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Bloodhounds have already found that out. They were supposed to open Tuesday night against Burlington High School, but that match was postponed.
Instead, Fort Madison started its season against one of the best teams in the state, and with two ranked teams looming this weekend in the Linn-Mar Invitational and a match against No. 1 (Class 1A) Holy Trinity set for next Monday, well, welcome to the 2020 season.
“That’s what I told the team, ‘Hey, at least we got to play,’” Fort Madison coach Kent Bailey said. “It’s been different, with everything that’s happened. We really wanted to play tonight.”
The Bloodhounds had early leads in the first and third games, but the Tigers (5-0) controlled the match.
“We did some good things,” Bailey said. “But we played a little timid at times, and you can’t do that against a team like New London. We were on our heels a lot tonight. Our back row did a good job of digging out shots, but we could never really get any offense going.”
Fort Madison opened the match with an early 4-3 lead before New London scored eight of the next 10 points. Keaura Williams had two kills in that stretch, while Paris Wilka had a kill and a block.
New London raced to an 8-3 lead in the second game before Fort Madison closed to within 12-8. Another four-point run gave the Tigers control again.
The Bloodhounds, trying to stay alive, led 5-4 in the third game, but the Tigers would score nine of the next points.
Fort Madison will play No. 9 (Class 2A) Sumner-Fredericksburg, No. 6 (Class 5A) Pleasant Valley and Center Point-Urbana in Saturday’s Linn-Mar Invitational.
“We’re getting tested right off the bat,” Bailey said.
But at least the season has started.