CASCADE, Iowa — The record books may credit Mary Frake for 300 wins and counting, but the longtime Cascade volleyball coach doesn’t really believe they belong to her.
“It’s quite the accomplishment, but I don’t think that it’s my accomplishment necessarily,” Frake said Tuesday after the Cougars posted a 2-1 record at the River Valley Conference quadrangular at Cascade High. “In 15 years, I can think of some pretty awesome athletes and young ladies that I’ve had the opportunity to coach and be a part of their lives. These are their wins. These aren’t my wins, they’re their wins.”
Frake reached the 300 milestone with a 3-1 win over Bellevue on Sept. 28, and after the Cougars improved to 20-10 this season on Tuesday night, Cascade’s 15th-year coach improved her career mark to 305-215 for a 59%-win percentage.
“It’s so amazing for her,” said senior outside hitter Ally Hoffman. “She’s been my coach since freshman year and I just love having her as a coach. She treats all of us like her own children. We’re all really close with her.”
Frake is a native of Delhi, Iowa, and was a four-sport standout at Maquoketa Valley High School. She went on to star on the softball diamond at the University of Dubuque, and then became a volleyball assistant coach at her prep alma mater for five years before heading to Cascade and coaching the freshman team for one year. Frake then took over the varsity program in 2006.
“My husband wanted me to quit softball because it took up too much time in the summer,” Frake said with a laugh, referring to Cascade head football coach and husband Tim Frake. “So, I took over the volleyball program and tried to build it ever since.
“They’ve worked hard. When we were in the Tri-Rivers and now River Valley, we battle. I don’t always have the most height, but we always try to work on the little things to keep us alive. That’s what we do.”
Frake’s positive attitude has become infectious around her players, and it’s inspired them to plenty of success over the past 15 seasons.
“She’s always believing in us and telling us that we can handle this and we can do it,” Hoffman said. “She’s peppy and always supporting us. She helps us in all aspects, on and off the court.”
At the quadrangular, the Cougars swept Camanche (2-30), 21-10, 21-18, and then rallied past Tipton (9-22), 22-24, 21-19, 15-12, before suffering their lone setback to West Branch (19-12), 8-21, 21-10, 15-5. Cascade was thrown a curveball when senior libero Elizabeth Gibbs went down with a knee injury in the first set of the night and did not return.
“Elizabeth is a wonderful, great player and after she tweaked her knee against Camanche we had to make some adjustments,” Frake said. “We put some people in some different spots and tried some things.”
Hoffman led the Cougars over the three matches with 14 kills, while Megan Smith delivered 28 assists and Claudia Noonan stepped in and added 23 digs. While disappointed in its defeat to West Branch, Cascade will get another crack at the Bears at home on Oct. 20 in a Class 2A Region 7 quarterfinal.
“They are a very good team and have been in the rankings pretty much the whole season,” Frake said. “You can’t take anything away from them and they move the ball really well. We’ll look at their setup again and adjust some things defensively. To be honest, I think we got a little tired towards the end of the night. Our blocks just weren’t there. I give them credit and we’ll live and learn. It’ll be anybody’s game in regionals.”