INDEPENDENCE - For Independence, the prep football season opener bore little resemblance to its winless 2016 campaign.
Even in defeat, a clear message was sent that there are brighter days ahead for the Mustangs.
Independence nearly matc ... »
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MARION — The Linn-Mar Lions apparently have found their passion. And as a result, they now resemble a Teresa Bair-coached team.
Loud, focused and hungry, the Class 5A 13th-ranked Lions served 13 aces and swept aside No. 3 Iowa City West, 25-15, 25-17, 25-22 in an MVC Mississippi Division volleyball match Tuesday night at Linn-Mar High School.
“I’m a little hyped out right now,” Ellie Anderson said afterward. “The first couple matches, we struggled with our celebrations and our cheering. Where was the passion going to come from? It just came together tonight.”
Formerly Teresa Kehe, Bair is in her fourth year at Linn-Mar (3-1 overall, 1-0 division) after a glory-filled run at Tripoli that features six state championships, then a stint at Loras College.
“Energy ... our teams here haven’t always brought it,” Bair said. “Sometimes, you didn’t know which team scored based on our reactions.
“I said, ‘Don’t worry what it looks like. It’s all right to have passion out there.’”
The Lions dominated a team that returned every single starter from a squad that swept them here in last year’s regional final. They did so in an atmosphere that felt like November. The Lions paused postmatch for photos with a student section that left the stands to celebrate with them.
“A match like this can really change our views and our goals on what we can do,” Megan Renner said. “It shows what we’re capable of.”
With defensive whiz Emilee McGowan out with post-concussion symptoms, Linn-Mar rotated a mere seven girls in a 6-2 offensive scheme (Anderson and Renner were the setters).
Renner led all attackers with 11 kills.
“Most people are going to outsize us,” Bair said. “We’ve got to find other ways to score.”
Serving was a start. The Lions delivered five aces in the opening game, six in the second.
West (2-3, 0-1) scored the first point of the match, but that was its only lead all night. Back-to-back kills by Renner sparked a seven-point run that gave Linn-Mar breathing room at 17-9 in the first set, then an 8-1 surge made it 11-3 in Game 2.
The Women of Troy cut a seven-point deficit to 23-21 in the finale, but Renner — a 6-foot-1 sophomore — closed it out with a pair of kills.
Anderson counted 19 assists for the winners. Carly Spies added six kills and four aces.
Emma Norris led West with nine kills, seven in the final set. Maddie Fay collected 19 assists.
LINN-MAR 3, IOWA CITY WEST 0 (25-15, 25-17, 25-22)
Serving — West 51-55 (.927), Linn-Mar 66-74 (.892)
Aces — West 3 (Colby Greene 2), Linn-Mar 13 (Carly Spies 4)
Kills — West 30 (Emma Norris 9), Linn-Mar 37 (Megan Renner 11)
Assists — West 29 (Maddie Fay 19), Linn-Mar 34 (Ellie Anderson 19)
Blocks — West 3 (three with 1), Linn-Mar 3 (three with 1)
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