BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
BURLINGTON – First-year Head Coach Kelly Knustrom didn’t mince words after her Lady Bloodhounds got their first Southeast Conference win of the year over Burlington Tuesday night.
“It feels pretty good to be honest,” Knustrom said. “The girls are pretty pumped, I’m pumped. And this was a total team effort.”
The Hounds rolled the 2-12 Grayhounds, but needed a fifth-set tiebreaker to get it done winning 25-18, 13-25, 25-18, 12-25, 15-9 to get to 1-2 in Southeast loop play and 2-11 overall.
“I told them in the locker room that we’ll have ups and downs, and tonight we had more ups than downs and that’s the trend we’re looking at here,” Knustrom said.
After the Hounds rolled to the first set win, a “down” settled in as Burlington jumped out to a quick 12-6 lead. Fort Madison battled back to cut the lead to just one on a kill from Alaina Simpson at 14-13, who finished the night going 18-22 hitting with 11 kills, showing some steady hang time from the corner.
Burlington freshman Annalise Buxton then scored on 11 straight service points without a side out to put the match away. Seven of those points came on Fort Madison errors. It wasn’t until the Grayhounds got a kill from Morgan Schroeder at 23-13 that BHS scored on offense.
Schroeder would get another kill and then Ayla Cannon put down a kill to end the second set.
Fort Madison would run away with the third set going up by as much as 10 at 18-8. Burlington would cut the lead to two at 20-18 when the Bloodhounds’ Molly Knipe dropped one over the net but out of bounds. Fort Madison would get a side out on a wild, lengthy rally that ended when Cannon’s attack went wide left. Eve Ruble would serve the next four for the win.
Burlington would breeze to the tie breaker with a fourth set win doubling up the Hounds, but Fort Madison jumped out in the first-to-15 tiebreaker. At 3-1, Simpson would serve four straight and get a kill from Ruble to spot the Hounds a 7-1 lead before the Grayhounds got a side out.
Fort Madison would push the lead to 10-4 before Burlington would get back in it with four straight capped by an Adalyn Galbraith kill down the middle of the Hound defense. Simpson would get a kill on an attack and score again on the next point with a drop shot to give Fort Madison a 13-8 lead. Burlington would get a side out on a defensive error before the Hounds wrapped things up.
Knustrom said the girls have set a bar for themselves after a rough weekend in Cedar Rapids at the Linn-Mar tournament that featured some of the best teams in the state.
“It was rough, but they decided then as a team to set the bar. And for every team after now this is it,” Knustrom said. “They’re committed to being that team that other teams will look back on and say they started it.”
Ruble was 13-22 hitting on the night with six kills and Anna Lynk was 14 of 14 hitting with nine kills. Molly Knipe was 13 of 15 serving with four aces. She also had 14 assists and 14 digs on the night. Simpson had 18 digs and three blocks.
“I thought Molly played excellent defense. And Alaina’s defense was great, she didn’t let a lot drop and Anna Lynk took some nice shots, but it really was a team effort and we need everyone firing if we’re going to be successful.”