DYERSVILLE, Iowa — With essentially a completely new roster from a year ago (primarily made up of sophomores seeing their first ever varsity action), no one knew quite what to make of the Dyersville Beckman volleyball team entering the season.
After Tuesday night, it’s clear: These Trailblazers are here to contend too.
Kiersten Schmitt had 10 kills and two blocks, fellow sophomore Olivia Hogan dug up 25 balls and senior transfer Jada Wills finished with 12 kills and six aces as Iowa Class 2A No. 3 Beckman grinded to a four-set win over 3A No. 2 Mount Vernon, 19-25, 25-18, 25-20 and 28-26.
“They grew up tonight,” said Blazers coach Todd Troutman. “We didn’t play great volleyball, but we battled our butts off. We played great defense. … The last two weeks, we’ve played great competition. I told the girls that we didn’t want to be that team that comes close to beating good teams. I think they just gained a lot of confidence this last week.”
It’s been one tough week for Beckman (23-3), which had to face these same Mustangs, 3A No. 1 Tipton and 4A No. 2 Dubuque Wahlert all at the same tournament in Iowa City last weekend. The Blazers lost that match to Mount Vernon, 2-1, but to Troutman, it was a sign that things are starting to gel in Dyersville.
Entering Tuesday, Beckman players saw a chance at redemption.
“We showed up,” said Hogan. “We were so excited to come play them. Just beat the other team. It was crazy out there.”
The finale in this one had all the makings of a high-ranked clash. After the Blazers (23-3) pushed to match point, 24-22, in the fourth set, the Mustangs (10-6) rallied for the next two to tie it at 24-all. The two teams traded errors, before a big swing by Wills again pushed Beckman to match point, 26-25.
Natalie Welch’s tip-kill sided out for Mount Vernon, but she missed her serve on the next play, putting Wills to the service line with a 27-26 lead.
Wills then ripped an ace off of the Mustangs’ Lauren Schrock to clinch the match for the Blazers.
“It was probably one of the greatest atmospheres I’ve been a part of,” said Wills, who entered the match as the overall state leader in kills with 231. “I just knew I had to step up in the serving line and eventually pull out the win, no matter how we got that done.
“These past two weeks, I think we’ve played about 30 sets of volleyball. All of that playing has helped us improve and come together as a team.”
Beckman came out of the gates firing, with Schmitt’s kill giving the Blazers an 8-3 lead to start the match. Then Schrock, a University of Iowa recruit, went off for Mount Vernon, cranking down 12 kills in Set 1 to lift her team to victory.
Schrock’s night was considerably quieter after that. She managed just one kill as Beckman tied the match with a Set 2 win. Set 3 was tighter, but the Blazers ultimately came through with Paige McDermott’s kill and Ashley Engelken’s ace winning the final two points for a 2-1 lead in the match for Beckman.
Schrock still finished with a match-high 23 kills, but part of the credit is owed to the Blazers’ back row, with Wills and Hogan combining for more than 40 digs in the contest.
Welch added 13 kills and five blocks for the Mustangs. Makayla Koelker led Beckman with 17 assists while Kylee Rueber finished with seven blocks to lead the Blazers.