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Maggie McDermott goes up for a kill.

The Cascade Cougar volleyball team opened conference play with a 3-0 (25-23, 25-21, 25-9) victory over the Northeast Rebels, Sept. 2. The Cougars had to overcome deficits in the first two hard-fought sets before blowing out the Rebels in the third.

Cougar coach Mary Frake credited the resolve of her team.

“We were down in both sets one and two and the girls stayed focused and pushed through to get ahead for the win in each of those sets,” she stated. “I was very pleased with our energy. Defensively we played very well and offensively we did a great job of spreading our offense out between our hitters (McKenna Gehl, Ally Hoffman, Corinne Rea, Kate Green, Brianna Koppes, and Maggie McDermott). Elizabeth Gibbs did a nice job of covering the floor in her libero position. Serving was also a strength of ours.”

Gibbs led the team with 12 digs. Hoffman had three blocks and a service ace. Gehl blasted seven kills and Claudia Noonan served up twelve assists.

“We were pleased with attaining the conference victory over Northeast. They are a good team. Our goal is to win the conference in the North and so this was one step closer for us,” said Frake.

Sept. 4 the Cougars won the Midland Tournament defeating Lone Tree (2-0), Central Elkader (2-0), North Cedar (2-1), Midland (2-0), Central City (2-0), and Monticello in the championship match (2-1).

“I was really proud of the girls and how they bounced back after the first set loss to North Cedar during pool play. Over the course of the whole day, we had lots of positives. Our serving was very good,” said Frake.

“Our setters, Megan Smith and Claudia Noonan, did a very good job of moving the ball around and our hitters worked hard to run their routes to create holes in our opponents’ blocks. Elizabeth Gibbs and Alyssa Lux, our two defensive specialists, were all over covering lots of ground on the court. They had some great digs to keep us in games,” Frake added.

Frake cited Hoffman, McDermott and Green for providing big blocks at pivotal moments. She also praised Rea and Koppes for finding holes in opponents’ blocks with timely kills.

“It was a great group effort,” Frake said, “During the deciding set against Monticello we were down like 1-7 and the girls just came together and brought the energy and excitement back to get even and eventually get the win. Playing Monticello is always hard and so any time we can beat them it is exciting for us. They have a good team so it was nice for us to get the win.”