Colo-NESCO, Collins-Maxwell volleyball programs look to build off Thursday's entertaining match

Joe Randleman
Ames Tribune

Colo-NESCO and Collins-Maxwell entered Thursday's Iowa Star Conference South Division match in the same boat.

Both programs are under the direction of new coaches. Former assistant Karissa Rempe has taken over at Colo-NESCO, and Casady Myers is now running things at Collins-Maxwell.

They are also in need of a confidence boost. Colo-NESCO had dropped eight straight heading into the match, and Collins-Maxwell was on a seven-match losing skid.

The end result was an entertaining affair that went the full five sets. Colo-NESCO won the rally game in a 19-17 thriller.

"Even if we didn't pull it out in the end it was fun," Myers said.

Collins-Maxwell outside hitter Gracie Leslie tips the ball over Colo-NESCO middle hitter Sophia Pizali during the first set of their Iowa Star Conference South Division volleyball match at the Colo-NESCO High School gym Thursday in Colo. Colo-NESCO won in five sets

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Colo-NESCO won the first set, 25-21. Collins-Maxwell came back in the second behind a clutch serving performance from Kenzi Wierson to pull off a 29-27 battle in the second.

Collins-Maxwell won another exciting duel in the third set, 25-23. The Spartans took an 18-17 lead in the fourth, but Colo-NESCO finished on an 8-0 run sparked by big kills from senior leaders Izabell Voelker and Jenna Hill.

In the rally game Collins-Maxwell came back from being down three on game point to tie the score on back-to-back aces from Sofie Wattonville. They went back-and-forth from there until Hill came up clutch again, breaking a 17-17 tie with a kill, and the Spartans had a receive error to give Colo-NESCO the win.

"I'm just really proud of my team," Hill said. "If we play with confidence and play with energy we can win. That really showed tonight." 

Colo-NESCO went 32-103 from 2015-20. Last year the team posted a 2-21 record.

But with Hill at outside hitter and Voelker running the show at setter as grizzled veterans, the Royals are starting to take small steps forward under Rempe. The victory over Collins-Maxwell put them at 5-15 and 2-3 in the conference.

"We didn't have to do a whole lot of rebuilding since I was an assistant last year, but the girls have put in the effort," Rempe said. "They deserved this win."

Colo-NESCO volleyball coach Karissa Rempe reacts to her team during the first set of the Royals' five-set victory over Collins-Maxwell Thursday at Colo. Rempe and the Royals are making strides as a program having already topped last year's win total.

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If Colo-NESCO can follow up Thursday's victory with another win at home next Monday against AGWSR and turn in a solid showing at the ISC tournament in Tripoli Oct. 16 they will have positive momentum heading into Class 1A regionals Oct. 18.

"We just have to play with confidence," Rempe said. "We have the skills and teamwork. We just have to put it all together."

Collins-Maxwell is in a rebuilding mode after losing a talented senior class off last year's team led by the outstanding trio of Elise Robertson, Reagan Franzen and Brooke Christie. They are in a similar position to what Colo-NESCO was in last year, falling to 2-22 after Thursday's loss.

"We've had a really rough start to the year," Myers said. "We've had so many injuries. We've had a different lineup for our first eight matches. People kept getting hurt."

With the inexperience and health issues it's been a challenge for the Spartans to come together under a new coach at times. But they're starting to figure things out.

"A lot of us hadn't played together before so we're learning how to mesh together and talk to each other," Wierson said. "This was probably one of the best matches we've played as a team together."

Myers said the communication part is where her players must grow the most between now and the start of regionals.

"The key is talking," Myers said. "Whenever we start to get down it's because they stop talking. They get that anxiety and start to do it themselves and not as a team. They have to remember they're a team and talk."

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Collins-Maxwell volleyball coach Casady Myers talks to her players during a timeout in the Spartans' match with Colo-NESCO Thursday at Colo. Collins-Maxwell fell in five sets, but Myers is pleased with the effort her team gave in defeat.

As both teams look to take a big step forward before regionals there is one thing they've each been able to rely on all season — their tremendous hustle.

It was on full display Thursday with all the diving and hustling for loose balls and ability to keep volleys alive.

"Them being so scrappy and us being so scrappy, it helped a lot," Wierson said. "We got to play our game and pay a lot of out-of-system balls, which helped us a lot."

Hill said the constant hustle can do nothing but good things for her team going forward. 

"If you're being aggressive at the net those plays will come," Hill said. "It's quick thinking. That's what we do a lot and we do it well."