DELHI — Brandy Whittenbaugh is a 1991 graduate of West Central High School, now coaching volleyball at Maquoketa Valley.
Abby DeGroot is a 2010 graduate of Maquoketa Valley, now coaching volleyball at West Central.
They are mother and daughter. And Tuesday night, they were rivals.
“People tell us that they couldn’t tell who was saying what, because we were saying the same things to our teams,” Whittenbaugh said. “I think we coach our kids the same way.”
Mother got the best of daughter in this contest; Maquoketa Valley prevailed, 25-12, 25-16, as part of a triangular hosted by the Wildcats.
Part of the difference in the match? That would be Maquoketa Valley senior Emerson Whittenbaugh, Brandy’s daughter and Abby’s little sister.
“She was a complete beast,” DeGroot said. “She didn’t look like she has missed a beat. It was weird trying to game-plan her, trying to slow her down.”
Emerson missed the end of her junior season — and all of the following basketball season — with what Brandy called “a shredded meniscus.” She collected 10 kills Tuesday and her rate of 5.73 kills per set leads the state.
It’s a volleyball family. A large family.
“A big tribe,” Abby called it. “Lots of aunts and uncles.”
Brandy previously coached at Oelwein and Clarion-Goldfield, with Abby playing for her at the latter as a freshman and sophomore. The family later moved east, with Abby playing as a junior at West Delaware and as a senior at Maquoketa Valley.
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Now in her fourth year coaching Maquoketa Valley, Whittenbaugh led the Wildcats to a Tri-Rivers Conference West Division title last year, their first in 23 years. This year’s team is 4-1.
DeGroot has piloted a steady climb at West Central. Her first team won two matches. Last year’s squad, her fifth, was 20-13. Now, the Blue Devils (2-2) have their sights on their first Upper Iowa Conference title since 1985. They open conference play next Thursday at home against South Winneshiek.
Senior Bryleigh Rouse leads a veteran squad at 2.25 kills per set.
“Most of these girls weren’t alive the last time West Central was relevant in volleyball,” DeGroot said. “It’s really cool to see them improve. Most of our starters play winter ball and have a lot of knowledge on the court.”
After spending two sets trying to beat each other, the tone between Whittenbaugh and DeGroot shifted quickly after Tuesday’s match.
“We talked a long time after the match,” Whittenbaugh said. “We knew what each other’s tendencies might be. We talked about each other weaknesses, and how we might be able to clean them up.”
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