Solon plays the spoiler in program debut of Iowa City Liberty volleyball

Prep volleyball: 14 kills by Rachael Nelson, 12 from Grace Keith earn Spartans win in four games

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NORTH LIBERTY — The first point came via a Solon service error. Sophomore LeeAnn Potter recorded the first kill.

Two milestones in the varsity volleyball debut for a new high school in a sparkling gymnasium. A first victory, however, will have to wait for the Iowa City Liberty volleyball program.

“We’re a scrappy team overall, we’re going to have to be,” Liberty Coach Randy Dolson said after the Lightning were upended by the Spartans, 30-28, 24-26, 25-16, 25-20, Tuesday night at Liberty High School. “That’s a good team that we played tonight and I think we proved to ourselves that we can stay with teams.”

Liberty (0-1) rode a substantial wave of excitement and used six aces to build a 12-2 lead in the opening game, but the visiting Spartans quickly settled down. Solon took its first lead at 16-15 and both teams had three game-point opportunities before the Spartans claimed the opener, 30-28.

“We’ve been working a lot on limiting the runs in practice,” Solon Coach Sarah Ferin said. “We talked a lot about how loud it was going to be and how many people were going to be in here. … We got it together.”

Liberty — a team comprised entirely of freshmen and sophomores — evened the match at a game apiece by scoring six of the final 10 points in Game 2, but Solon (1-0) managed to get some distance in the final two games. The Spartans closed Game 3 with a 6-0 burst and led by as many as eight in the clinching game.

“We have a lot of newbies on the floor, so us upperclassmen were just trying to take control of the match,” said Solon senior Grace Keith, who collected 12 kills. “Obviously they were super loud. We always try to just hone in and focus on ourselves.”

Junior Rachael Nelson led Solon with 14 kills, while libero Taylor Moore added 23 digs. 6-foot junior Kate Benzing posted five blocks.

Potter tallied a game-high 15 kills for Liberty. Setter Grace Crimmins distributed 28 assists, while Kaylee Berns added five ace serves.

Solon visits Class 3A No. 12 Mount Vernon Thursday along with Clear Creek Amana and 4A No. 8 Center Point-Urbana, while Liberty will compete in the Charles City Invitational this Saturday.

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