BY JOHN BOHNENKAMP
FORT MADISON – Message received.
Kelly Knustrom made sure her Fort Madison High School volleyball team understood after the Bloodhounds dropped the first game of Tuesday’s Southeast Conference match against Washington.
Whatever she said worked, as the Bloodhounds rallied for a 17-25, 25-17, 25-13, 25-19 win.
Fort Madison (4-13) bounced back after losing two of three matches in Monday’s Holy Trinity Classic.
More importantly, the Bloodhounds bounced back after surrendering 12 consecutive points to drop the first game to the Demons.
“Sometimes I think you have to be stern,” Knustrom said. “We just talked about how that’s not how we practice, that’s not how we play, how we could be better. It was pretty clear cut. It was, ‘Do your job. Do what we practice.’
“At some point, they have to pick themselves up. Sometimes it’s a mental game, and that’s where we’re struggling right now.”
The Bloodhounds were seemingly in control of that first game, leading for most of the game before the Demons (0-16) pulled off a stunning rally.
“I think the first game, we weren’t really disciplined,” Knustrom said. “We didn’t look like we were playing as a team. We didn’t really look like … I don’t know what we were doing the first game.”
But the Bloodhounds looked like they knew what they were doing the rest of the match.
Fort Madison scored six consecutive points to take control of the second game, closing the game with kills from Genevieve Ruble and Taylor Johnson.
The Bloodhounds then put together an impressive run to end the third game, scoring seven of the last eight points. Three came on service aces from Lauryn Helmick and Anna Lynk.
“We did serve aggressively,” Knustrom said.
Fort Madison had a stretch in the fourth game in which it scored eight of nine points, including a kill and two aces from Ruble. Washington got to within 20-17 before the Bloodhounds put the match away, with Alaina Simpson’s kill closing the match.
Simpson finished the night with seven kills and 10 digs. Anna Lynk and Eve Ruble combined for 11 kills and five aces. Molly Knipe had 18 assists to lead Fort Madison, and Madison Pirri had 17 digs.
The Bloodhounds have gone 3-2 since opening the season 1-11.
It’s progress, Knustrom said.
“We’re working through some things,” she said. “I saw a lot more smiles in this game than I’ve seen in a lot of games.”