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Spartans bow out

Third time not the charm against Mustangs Solon falls in quarterfinal, 3-0
Junior Maddie Manifold applies a soft touch at the net against Maquoketa Oct. 6 in Solon. Manifold had two of the teams four aces in a 3-0 loss to Mount Vernon in a Region 7 quarterfinal Oct. 19. (file photos by Doug Lindner)

MOUNT VERNON– At the end of the first game, Mount Vernon had just dominated Solon for a 25-10 win.
Head Coach Jeff Walker didn’t have a particular message for his team.
“(I) just told them that game’s over and this is a new game,” he reported.
Solon’s varsity volleyball team responded and fought back gamely, but the Mustangs withstood the storm and took the second game, 25-23. Third-ranked (Class 3A) Mount Vernon rolled on to a 25-15 third-set win and ended the season for the Spartans in a Region 7 road quarterfinal Oct. 19.
Senior Katlyn Jeter led the Solon offense with 10 of the team’s 23 kills. Sophomore Delaney Bombei and junior Maddie Manifold added five and four, respectively.
“Kate had a very good match,” Walker commented. “She went from not playing last year to having a big role this year. Kennedy Bombei did a great job of setting.”
Bombei had all 20 of the team’s assists.
The front line defense found success in holding off the Mustang attack. Junior Camryn Keith had four total blocks, with two from Delaney Bombei and one each from Kennedy Bombei and senior Sarah Heick.
Sophomore Sophia Stahle led the back row with six digs; sophomore Kylee Flynn and junior Alexa Hupfeld added five each.
Manifold had two of the team’s four aces. The others belonged to Stahle and Hupfeld. The Spartans were 34-39 from the service line (87.2 percent).
The Mustangs were stellar from the stripe, missing only four of 61 serves. The Mount Vernon defense produced 75 digs and its offense attempted 99 kills.
The loss dropped Solon to 17-19 for the season.
“This definitely was a different year with everything we had to go through with COVID-19,” Walker said. “The girls were great working through the season. The parents have been great in helping so we could focus on coaching. Also the coaching staff has been great to work with.”
He praised the team for adapting to numerous lineup changes, and credited his seniors for having a big impact.
“They showed leadership and how to accept what their role is on the team and to work hard,” he noted.
Walker, asked to assess his first year as head coach, indicated there’s always room for growth.
“You always think about what you could have done better or different and what you can do for the next season to better the program and yourself as a coach,” he said.