WOODWARD — Des Moines Christian did something Tuesday that had happened only once since Woodward-Granger joined the WCAC in 2009 — they swept the Hawks, 3-0.
DMC (10-4, 3-0) posted set wins of 25-21, 25-17 and 25-18 to mark only the second time — and first since Sep. 2, 2010 at DMC — that W-G had been swept in WCAC play.
“Some of our decision-making was not good, and we have to up our volleyball IQ,” W-G head coach Meg Jackson said. “An example of that was we were swinging into hand, and we had just talked before the game that the middle of the court would be open, and we just weren’t using it.”
W-G was second in the WCAC in 2009 and ’10, won the title in ’11 and ’12, and, after a second-place finish (to DMC) in 2013 had run off three consecutive league crowns. The Hawks entered the season a whopping 63-4 all-time in conference play.
The league crowns champions, so even if two teams were to tie (which has not happened in volleyball) each would a titleist. For that to happen, someone would have to upset the Lions and for W-G to win out.
“Even if we play well, nobody is going to beat them, so it looks like we will be second,” Jackson said. “I said to the girls ‘What do you do now?’ and some of them were not sure.”
“I told them what we do is get right back in the gym and work on getting better,” she continued. “The end goal is to be playing our best volleyball at the end of the season and that is something we still control.”
The Lions broke open a 10-all first game with seven consecutive service points. The Hawks rallied to close to within 20-18 and 23-21 but could not quite erase the deficit in suffering the loss.
The second set found W-G in an 11-10 hole when another Lion mid-set run opened a 20-14 gap en route to the 25-17 win.
“We would have a run but not hold onto it and give back what we had just done,” Jackson said. “That is a part of the consistency we need to be better at. Volleyball is such a game of momentum, and when you have it you have to use it.”
The hosts refused to go easily, rushing to a 9-5 lead in the third set, only to see the guests battle back to knot the score at 11-all. A series of miscommunication and mishits allowed DMC to slip out to a 19-13 lead, and W-G could not catch up.
The loss — the first in WCAC play for W-G since Oct. 17 of 2013 — puts the Hawks at 9-8, 2-1.
Julie Pitman had four kills and Alyssa Bice three for the hosts, with Ashley Gales, Anna Tague, Alissa Smeltzer and Emma Drake adding two kills apiece. Pitman played a part in six blocks and Drake three, with Bice in on two blocks and Gales and Tague one each.
Pitman had six assists, Drake four and Kaycee Major one to set the offense. Drake and Pitman had nine digs apiece, Smeltzer four, and Bice, Major and Marissa Pasker three each.
Bice tallied four aces on 9-of-12 serving, with Smeltzer 12-13-2 and Major 9-9-2. Ashlyn Soelberg was 4-5-2, Drake 4-5-1, Pitman 7-of-7 and Tague 6-of-6.
W-G will play in the Ballard Invitational Saturday and then visit Madrid Tuesday.