MARION — The "Battle of the Sixes" was a virtual stalemate.
But Isabella Sade had more help, and Marion has another title.
Class 4A second-ranked Marion controlled play throughout the match, and swept No. 11 Independence, 25-14, 25-17, 25-19, Tuesday night to capture its third consecutive Wamac Conference West Division volleyball championship.
“It’s a good feeling,” setter Caitlyn Smith said. “That’s one of our goals. Now we go to work on our next goal, to get to the state tournament.”
Marion (22-7 overall, 7-0 division) has held court in the Wamac West for longer back than the current three-year run. The Indians have seven divisional titles in the last nine years.
Both teams have a lethal hitter with the uniform No. 6 — Sade (middle hitter) for Marion, Kaitlin Niedert (outside) for Independence (22-6, 5-1). Niedert had 15 kills to Sade’s 13, but the Indians possessed quite a bit more depth.
Andrea Landuyt and Morgan Swanger added seven kills apiece for the winners.
“Our outside hitters really stepped up,” Smith said. “They were ready to put the ball down and hit spots. We tried to serve aggressive (at Niedert) to get them out of system.”
Marion didn’t trail in the first set, and quickly climbed out of a 7-3 deficit in the second. A 9-1 blitz put the Indians in front, 12-8, and they pulled away from there.
In the finale, Independence scored four straight points for its first and only lead at 12-11. Marion tallied seven of the next eight points, and wasn’t pushed again.
“We took a big step forward tonight,” Marion Coach Roxanne Paulsen said. “We didn’t let them back in the match. When our other hitters are ready to go like they are tonight, it really opens things up.”
Smith collected 30 assists for the Indians. Holly Cooksley distributed 18 for the Mustangs.
Niedert was the lone senior in Indee’s starting lineup. The other six were sophomores.
MARION 3, INDEPENDENCE 0 (25-14, 25-17, 25-19)
Serving — Independence 44-52 (.846), Marion 68-74 (.919)
Aces — Independence 5 (five with 1), Marion 4 (four with 1)
Kills — Independence 26 (Kaitlin Niedert 15), Marion 35 (Isabella Sade 13)
Assists — Independence 24 (Holly Cooksley 18), Marion 33 (Caitlyn Smith 30)
Blocks — Independence 2 (Niedert, Madison Larson), Marion 5 (Randi Wright 2)
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