BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – The Fort Madison volleyball team got off to a sluggish start Monday night, but came around to clean things up and polish off West Hancock in a cross-state volleyball matchup.
The match was originally scheduled for Hamilton, but changed last week to be hosted by the Bloodhounds. The switch may have been enough to get Fort Madison over the hump in a 23-25, 25-15, 25-23, 25-13 win over the Titans.
In a first game that had ten tie scores and 10 lead changes, the Hounds couldn’t ever muster enough momentum to fully pull away.
Head Coach Kelly Knustrom said the Lady Hounds have had trouble getting geared up for non-conference matchups and playing on a Monday didn’t help.
“I had a feeling that might be part of it,” Knustrom said of the rare Monday game. “During one of the breaks I told them to just pretend they were playing Fairfield. We played them Saturday and played really well,” she said.
The Lady Hounds were whistled for a couple handling errors out of the gate forcing a quick time out by Knustrom. Then a couple defensive errors had the Hounds in a 2-6 deficit.
A couple kills by Aija Jenkins and Eve Ruble tied things up at 6 apiece and then the match went back and forth all the way to 23. A Ruble attack went long to get West Hancock one point away from the game, and then an ace wrapped up the first game.
Fort Madison came out of the break looking to get things knotted up and went up 11-3 with a quick start on about five errors on the Titans’ side. West Hancock wouldn’t ever get back into the second game as Fort Madison pulled away going up by as much as 23-13 before putting the game away.
A third game went back and forth again with Fort Madison taking the lead for good at 24-23 with Anna Lynk serving. Lynk served the final four points with Taylor Johnson getting a push kill to end the game.
Fort Madison ran away with the fourth set starting 7-0 behind some solid serving from Molly Knipe. Knipe recorded back-to-back aces at 5-0 and 6-0 to highlight an 11-5 run.
At 19-11 Fort Madison got two kills from Lynk that sandwiched a kill from Alaina Simpson to allow the Hounds to double up West Hancock 22-11. Simpson would serve up the final point and a Titan attack would go long to end the night.
Simpson was 15 of 19 attacking with 12 kills to lead Fort Madison at the net. Lynk was 14 of 16 hitting with nine kills. Knipe was 13 of 14 serving with seven aces on the night.
Knustrom said the Hounds are relatively inexperienced and are still learning to play together.
“There are only a couple here that have any varsity experience so we’re still learning to trust each other and play together,” she said.
“But they stuck together tonight after a rough start and got the job done.”
Fort Madison improves to 6-15 on the year and hosts Mt. Pleasant Tuesday night for senior night.