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.
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MARION — The Marion Indians had the match by the throat, and let go.
Then, Iowa City High had its chance, and kept squeezing.
Class 5A 12th-ranked City High recovered from some early lethargy and fought past 4A second-ranked Marion in a four-set non-conference volleyball match, 12-25, 27-25, 25-22, 25-17, Thursday night at Marion High School.
“We were terrible the first set,” City Coach Craig Pitcher said. “Then we stole the second one, and stayed aggressive the rest of the way.”
Marion scored the first 12 points of the match and was never threatened in the opening set. The Indians (17-6) were on the verge of a two-set advantage, leading 24-20 and holding four set points in their pocket.
Shannon Stamp had two kills and a block as the Little Hawks (12-9) got even at 24-all, then Mackenzie Ribble’s ace put them in front.
Shannon James’ kill gave City a 26-25 edge, then an attack error by the Indians evened the match at a set apiece.
That was the turning point, and it never turned back.
“I think our serving had a lot to do with (our comeback),” said City High’s Alexa Aldrich-Ingram, who posted 17 kills and 22 assists. “We’ve gained a lot of team chemistry lately.”
The Little Hawks controlled the remainder of the match. They stormed back from a 6-2 deficit in Game 3 with a 10-2 run, then scored six straight in the final set to erase a 6-3 hole.
“The last three sets were what we saw Saturday,” Pitcher said, referring to City High’s title at the Dubuque Invitational. “A lot of our energy came from within.
“Obviously we regrouped and cleaned things up.”
City High has won seven consecutive matches.
James added 13 kills for the Little Hawks; Stamp collected 11. Sydney Schroder had 24 assists.
Marion’s Isabella Sade led all attackers with 23 kills, and also posted five blocks. Caitlyn Smith distributed 34 assists.
IOWA CITY HIGH 3, MARION 1 (12-25, 27-25, 25-22, 25-17)
Serving — City High 85-87 (.977), Marion 88-91 (.967)
Aces — City High 9 (Shannon James 3), Marion 7 (Kenzie Redmond 3)
Kills — City High 55 (Alexa Aldrich-Ingram 17), Marion 43 (Isabella Sade 23)
Assists — City High 54 (Sydney Schroder 24), Marion 39 (Caitlyn Smith 34)
Blocks — City High 3 (Shannon Stamp 2), Marion 9 (Sade 5)
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