MAQUOKETA, Iowa — At the highest level, there are a lot of intricate phases to the sport of volleyball. Through the first few weeks of the season, West Delaware appears to be excelling at all of them.
Macey Kleitsch finished with a match-high 27 assists, spreading the ball around to a potent and quick Hawks offense as Iowa Class 4A No. 4 West Delaware swept Maquoketa, 25-13, 25-19, 25-19, in a WaMaC East matchup on Tuesday.
“We have high expectations and that’s something to strive for,” said Kleitsch, a senior who finished with 928 assists last year to rank top 10 in 4A. She was also one of four players on the Hawks to finish with seven or more kills, a sign of how versatile they are across the net. “Even if we don’t meet (our goals) it’s something that can push us to the next level.”
As each set progressed, West Delaware (11-1) pulled further and further away from the improved Cardinals (5-7). Kleitsch’s ace capped a six-point West Delaware run in the opener for a 19-8 lead. She had a pair of assists and a kill as the Hawks scored the final three points to clinch Set 1.
In Set 2, the teams played to a 6-6 tie at the start, before Kleitsch and Allison Collier teamed up for a block to start a 9-3 run for a 15-9 lead. A series of miscues aided a three-point Maquoketa swing, cutting the Cardinals’ deficit to 21-18 late in the second set. Collier’s kill gave serve back to the Hawks, who took four of the final five points in the frame for a 2-0 lead in the match.
Seeking the sweep, Kinley Kolbet scored four straight points for West Delaware with a kill and three blocks for a 6-3 lead. Her kill off of Kleitsch’s set pushed the Hawks up to 18-8 and capped a five-point run for her team.
“It was really good to get the win,” said Kolbet, who led West Delaware with seven blocks in the match. “We had some errors and we didn’t come out as strong as we’d hoped to but it was nice to get it done.”
Kleitsch’s dump-kill pushed the Hawks to match point, 24-15 in Set 3. The Cardinals sided out and made a brief spurt to regain the match, with Addie Bowman’s serving cutting their deficit to 24-19. Freshman Alivia Schulte tooled the block for a kill on the final play, delivering the sweep to West Delaware.
Collier led the Hawks with eight kills while Kolbet, Kleitsch and Ava Hauser had seven apiece. Nell Sybesma and Natalie Ehlinger finished with a match-high 11 kills to lead Maquoketa, while Bowman was the contest’s digs leader with 19.
Despite the loss, this is an improved Cardinals team, said second-year coach Nicole Snyder. There’s a lot that can be learned after playing a quality opponent like the Hawks.
“West Delaware’s always tough to play because they run such a quick offense, and it’s tough to teach the girls,” Snyder said. “I think our girls did really well, and adapted to it on the go.”