MOUNT VERNON — More scoring options and an infusion of talented freshmen have Coe volleyball back on an uptick.
After seven winning seasons in a row, the Kohawks dipped to 14-16 last year. If a sweep over rival Cornell Wednesday night is any indication, Coe appears ready to return to its winning ways.
“We’re more balanced,” Coe senior Lindsey Koch said after the Kohawks defeated the Rams for just the second time in five years, 25-18, 31-29, 25-19, at Small Multi-Sport Center. “We have more threats. The newcomers are coming in and stepping up right away, which is awesome. Madi (Miller) and I are trying to lead as seniors.”
Koch is a 5-foot-10 outside hitter and former Hudson prep who posted a team-high 408 kills last season, while Miller — a graduate of Iowa City West that led the way with 430 digs — is now the full-time libero. Every other player in the starting lineup is an underclassman.
“They are kind of the glue that holds everyone together,” Coe Coach DeAnn Woodin said of Koch and Miller. “They keep people calm, but also get people excited about what we’re doing. They know how to execute, know how to follow the game plan and bring that sense of urgency to our team.”
Against Cornell, Koch notched nine kills and 13 digs, while Miller added nine digs. Sophomore Adyson Wintermote led the Kohawks with 11 kills and chipped in 10 digs. Fellow sophomore Morgan Kluesner tallied a match-high 16 digs and was credited with five kills.
Coe started three freshmen against Cornell, all Iowa natives. Setter Elli Teeple — who helped Ankeny Centennial win a state championship two years ago — paced the Kohawks with 27 assists, while North Cedar alum Darby Hawtrey and Hinton grad Bryce Klein each posted four kills along the front row.
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“They come from winning programs, so that always helps,” Woodin said. “They step on the court expecting to win. They come in to train hard every day and they’re gamers.”
Coe (3-2) used a 14-1 burst to overtake the Rams in Game 1, then fought through a second game that featured 20 ties and 21 lead changes before a Kluesner block won it, 31-29. The Kohawks scored the final four points of the third game — including two ace serves from Koch — to earn the sweep.
Senior Nicole Ciari had a match-high 16 kills for Cornell (1-2), which travels to Minneapolis this weekend for the Augsburg tournament.
Coe will be in Grinnell this Friday and Pella on Saturday for the Central/Grinnell tournament.
“We’re ready to go,” Miller said. “We’re going to go get some more wins and then conference next week.”
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