It might not seem like the most ideal way to head into postseason play.
But the Dubuque Senior volleyball team feels the lessons learned from its two losses in a Mississippi Valley Conference quad Tuesday night at Nora Gymnasium will be more beneficial than the lone victory.
The Rams hosted the No. 5 and No. 6-ranked teams in the MVC in a four-team round robin before the tournament begins next week.
Senior breezed past Cedar Rapids Jefferson in its opening match, 25-12, 25-17, before falling in the final two matches to Cedar Rapids Prairie and Linn-Mar.
“I thought we saw some good competition tonight, so that was nice to see,” Senior coach Haley Zenner said. “We went point-for-point sometimes and just gave up too many runs at other times.”
Maya Watters led the Rams with 17 kills during the evening, while Olivia Baxter and Katelyn Kitchen floored 16 apiece. Alana McDermott had 40 digs, Maggie McDermott 63 assists, Lucie Lambe two aces and Brooke Sullivan and Baxter three blocks each to round out Senior’s leading performers on the night.
Now, the attention shifts to Hempstead — a rematch the Rams have been looking forward to for a month and a half. The Mustangs host Senior in a Class 5A Region 8 semifinal match Oct. 21.
Senior claimed the first two sets against Hempstead in their match Aug. 31, before the Mustangs charged with a ferocious rally to win in a five-set thriller.
“We have been just hoping that we get to see them again,” Watters said. “We’re really excited we get another shot at them. That’s what we’ve been waiting for all season.”
The Rams dropped a tight second match Tuesday against Cedar Rapids Prairie, 25-21, 26-24, with multiple lead changes and neither team ever leading by more than four points.
Despite the loss, Zenner feels that match will most closely replicate the challenge her team will face in next week’s much anticipated rematch with Hempstead.
“We will be practicing how to go point-for-point and to keep battling and try to keep the momentum on our side,” she said. “We talk a lot about how volleyball is a game of momentum and keeping it on our side and limiting our errors.”
Zenner echoed Watters that the sting of that early-season defeat is still fresh in the minds of the Rams.
“I figured we would see them again sometime in the postseason and I know for sure it’s lingered in the back of the girls’ minds,” she said. “We will just take the next few days to prepare for that match. We are really looking forward to it.”
The Rams finished the regular season at 20-16 and hovered around the top-15 in the Class 5A rankings all year, sneaking in at No. 15 in two of the seven polls thus far.
But for Watters, going into the biggest match of the season next week on a mini losing streak might just be a blessing in disguise.
“Even though winning is great, I think losing those tight matches is a lot more helpful to us, because we really get to learn what we did wrong and improve from it,” she said. “We just need to work on our communication more and learn from our mistakes.”