MOUNT VERNON — To gain a mental edge, the Mount Vernon Mustangs went to college.
A college coach, that is.
“Volleyball is a game of emotion. It can get in your head a lot,” senior Lauren Ryan said.
So the Mustangs called on Jeff Meeker, head coach at Cornell College.
“We had a day of mental training,” Camryn Ellyson said. “He told us we had to trust each other and believe in ourselves. I think we all had a different mindset tonight.”
And, against Dyersville Beckman, a different outcome.
Class 3A third-ranked Mount Vernon solved 2A No. 9 Beckman for the first time in three encounters this season, 27-25, 25-19, in the championship match of the Wamac Conference tournament Thursday night at Mount Vernon High School.
“This feels really good, especially after losing to them twice,” Ryan said.
Mount Vernon (27-6) won the tournament for the second straight season. Last year, the Mustangs used this triumph as a springboard that eventually led them to a state championship.
This year? Stay tuned.
The Mustangs’ new mentality was put to the test early Tuesday, when they faced a 21-18 deficit in the first set of their first match, against 4A No. 7 Marion.
They closed with a 7-2 run to win the set, then claimed the match, 25-23, 25-15. They followed by handling 3A No. 10 Independence, 25-12, 25-14, to set up their reversal against Beckman (28-9), which had outlasted the Mustangs here in a five-setter Sept. 22 that ultimately decided the Wamac East Division title.
Beckman also won an Oct. 3 match at Waverly.
But not this time. The Mustangs simply had more weapons, collecting a 30-21 advantage in kills. Lauren Schrock had 10 of them, Ellyson eight, Sara Rhomberg six.
Sydney Dennis ran the show with 27 assists.
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“Our energy was really good,” Dennis said. “When we got down, we did a good job digging back. I think we have a lot of grit and competitiveness, and I definitely think we’re ready to take on some of the best teams.”
Beckman, which had a quarterfinal bye, defeated 4A No. 8 West Delaware, 25-17, 25-21 in the semifinals. The Blazers held a 22-19 lead in the first set in the championship match, and had two set points before Mount Vernon scored the final three points, a run punctuated by kills from Rhomberg and Schrock.
The Mustangs trailed 16-14 in Game 2 before ending with an 11-3 push.
Kiersten Schmitt collected nine kills and seven assists for Beckman.
One of the storylines of the night was 4A No. 11 Clear Creek Amana, which did not compete due to coronavirus-related quarantine. CCA officials did not respond to email or phone calls Thursday, and the Clippers’ status for the postseason is unknown.
WAMAC CONFERNCE VOLLEYBALL TOURNAMENT
At Mount Vernon
West Delaware def. Maquoketa, 25-16, 25-12
Mount Vernon def. Marion, 25-23, 25-15
Independence def. Solon, 24-26, 25-22, 15-8
Dyersville Beckman def. West Delaware, 25-17, 25-21
Mount Vernon def. Independence, 25-12, 25-14
Mount Vernon def. Dyersville Beckman, 27-25, 25-19
CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH: MOUNT VERNON 2, BECKMAN 0 (27-25, 25-19)
Serving: Beckman 42-45 (.933), Mount Vernon 47-51 (.922)
Aces: Beckman 4 (Olivia Hogan 3), Mount Vernon 5 (Sydney Dennis 2)
Kills: Beckman 21 (Kiersten Schmitt 9), Mount Vernon 30 (Lauren Schrock 10)
Assists: Beckman 19 (Makayla Koelker 9), Mount Vernon 28 (Dennis 27)
Blocks: Beckman 7 (Jenna Lansing 3), Mount Vernon 4 (Camryn Ellyson 2)
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