The Colo-NESCO volleyball team may not have achieved its desired win total, but head coach Devin Womochil saw plenty of positives in her first season running the program.
Colo-NESCO finished 6-16 overall and placed fourth in the Iowa Star Conference South Division with a 2-3 record. That is a little down from last year’s 9-17 mark.
“It didn’t go as we wanted, however I feel very good about the season,” Womochil said. “We made growth both defensively and offensively. That is all a coach can ask for. For me being a new coach, we didn’t have much time, but the girls made progress!”
Colo-NESCO started off the season 2-9.
The Royals swept Ankeny Christian Academy and Meskwaki at the Meskwaki Invitational on Aug. 31. They lost to Denver, Roland-Story and Belle Plaine at Meskwaki and also fell to South Hamilton and Madrid to open the season Aug. 29 and to Martensdale Sti. Marys, AGWSR, Baxter and Lynnville-Sully to start off September.
“The biggest challenge I would say we had as a team was just getting used to each other,” Womochil said. “It was my first year here, and the girls first year with a new coach. So we had to get comfortable fast, and learn a lot all at once.”
On Sept. 24 Colo-NESCO broke out of its slump by sweeping Meskwaki on the road for its first ISC South Division win. The Royals were swept by eventual ISC South Division champ and state qualifier North Tama in their next match, but they came back with a sweep over GMG on the road for their second conference win on Oct. 1.
Colo-NESCO dropped its next three matches to Collins-Maxwell, Grand View Christian and South Hardin. The Royals then wrapped up the regular season at the Iowa Star Conference Tournament in Clarksville.
The Royals ended up 2-1 in the Silver Bracket at the ISC tournament. They lost to Riceville in three sets, but swept Meskwaki and took down Clarksville in three sets.
“On offense we got comfortable running some plays and quicks when attacking and on defense I think is where I saw the most growth,” Womochil said. “The girls had to learn new defensive positions. I felt like by the end of the year we were getting where we needed to and we were digging ball up. On top of that, I don’t think we were afraid to dig hard balls that were hit at us.”
The season came to an end in the opening round of Class 1A regionals. The Royals were swept by BCLUW in Conrad.
“I felt throughout the season we improved,” Womochil said. “We made a comeback playing BCLUW in the third set. We were ahead by one point, which was great to see the girls fight back against a team that was very talented. I thought we played well against North Tama for how dominant they were as well. My biggest highlight of the season was getting to know each of the girls on the team, and watching them grow as volleyball players.”
Colo-NESCO totaled 361 kills with 265 errors in 1,154 attacks for a kill-efficiency rate of 0.083. The Royals served at an 87.6-percent rate with 96 aces, totaled 401 digs at 6.57 per set and 53 blocks at 0.87 per set.
Sophomore outside hitter Jenna Hill and senior setter Megan Carlson were the most consistent players for Colo-NESCO. Hill made the all-ISC South Division second team and Carlson was named honorable mention.
HIll recorded 56 kills with a team-best 0.237 kill-efficiency rate and she also had 12 digs, six blocks and five aces. Carlson handed out 260 assists at 4.26 per set and also delivered 59 digs, 26 kills and 18 aces.
Senior middle hitter Gracie Kettwig finished with 58 kills, 13 blocks and eight aces and junior middle hitter Emmy Hostetler delivered 57 kills, 10 blocks and four aces. Junior Ayvarie Bappe added 55 kills, 19 assists and 17 digs and junior McKenzie Niemeyer 44 kills, 74 digs and 16 aces.
Senior outside hitter was limited all season after suffering a preseason foot injury. She ended up with 43 kills, 62 digs and 19 aces.
Senior Lauryn Hill missed the last part of the season with a wrist injury. She had 32 digs, 13 kills and five blocks.
Junior Megan Hulshizer led the team in digs from the libero spot with 121. She also had 10 aces.
Senior Morgan Sluis added 16 digs, three kills and two aces. Izabell Voelker had five assists and four digs and junior Morgan Lytle saw action in two sets.
Womochil will have to do some rebuilding next season with the loss of Kettwig, Hostetler, Carlson, Purvis, Hill and Sluis.
“All six of them played a crucial role on this team,” Womochil said. “From leading the team in kills, digs, assists, leadership skills, blocks - you name it. They are such an athletic group of girls. They enjoy being active and competing and learning, which is all a coach can ask for from a group of seniors. All of them played on varsity so there are six spots that are open and need to be filled. They will all be missed so much, in practice, during the games and off of the court.”
But the Royal coach is optimistic about the future of the program.
“I am really excited for next season,” Womochil said. “So far I am liking what I see. I plan on having a club team this winter/spring, which will get them the exposure to volleyball competition in the offseason. So hopefully when the season starts we are more prepared than we were this last year. I am excited to see Izzy Voelker play setter. I’m also excited to see the improvements that Ayvarie Bappe, Kenzie Niemeyer, and Jenna Hill make this next year both offensively and defensively. I can’t wait for next fall and to get back on the court!”