BURLINGTON — Even though her team had won each set of the evening so far, Iola High volleyball coach Amanda Strickler-Holman didn’t like what she saw.
On the wrong side of a 21-17 deficit against host Burlington, Strickler-Holman called a timeout when she saw momentum slipping to the Wildcats’ favor.
Did she deliver a message of inspiration? A new strategy, perhaps?
Nope. She had her players do a quick round of jumping jacks — not once, or twice, but three times.
“We are an energy-based team, and they had absolutely none,” Strickler-Holman said afterward. “If we have energy, and we are talking, we are a totally different team, so that’s what I pulled out of my hat.
“I did my best to be silly.”
The gambit worked to perfection.
Much like they’d done previously, the Fillies ended the set with a flourish, scoring eight straight points to win the set, 25-21, and match against the host Wildcats.
Prior to that, Iola capped an exhilarating win over Wellsville, 31-29 and 25-21.
The 31-29 thriller included another impressive comeback that saw Iola trail 24-20 before scoring four straight to knot the score. The teams then traded points until Iola’s Jenna Curry tipped home a kill with the Fillies trailing 29-28. The match ended two points later in identical fashion, with Wellsville hitting potential kills into the net.
Becca Sprague led the way against Wellsville with eight kills and eight assists. Veronica Agostini was right behind with six kills and seven assists. Curry and Lauryn Holloway each knocked home four kills. Holloway also had two aces.
Several players came up a bit in the digs department. Sprague had 14, Curry 13, Hannah Gardner 12, Agostini 11 and Holloway nine.
IOLA cruised to victory in the first set against Burlington, winning 25-16, before going back-and-forth in the second until Iola’s frenzied, calisthenic-fueled finish.
Sprague and Holloway again paced Iola’s attack. Sprague had six kills and Holloway five. Sprague also had nine assists, two aces and a block. Holloway, meanwhile, was on target with all five of her kill attempts. Curry had 10 digs to lead the way.
“We did a great job,” Strickler-Holman said. “I think we’re peaking, and tonight shows that, going 2-0 in league. Our goal is to come back and take care of what we lost in the first half of the season, where we’d lost too many by two points.
“We let one get away last week,” she continued. “We did not this time. We pulled it out and did what we needed to do.”
Even if it took some jumping jacks to pave the way.
Had Strickler-Holeman tried such a maneuver previously in her coaching career?
“Nope, never,” she laughed. “It was just something that came up.”
IOLA (11-14) has one more week of regular season action. The Fillies will host a tournament Saturday in the IHS gymnasium before wrapping up the regular season next Tuesday at Prairie View.
The Class 4A Substate Tournament — and the chance to earn a state tournament bid — will be in Iola Oct. 24.