Iola rallies to earn split

A miserable start to Senior Night turned into a dramatic turnaround Thursday for Iola High's volleyball team. The Mustangs trailed in the decisive third set against Fredonia in their final match of the day, but rallied for a much-needed 25-23 victory.

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October 1, 2021 - 2:48 PM

Iola High's Chloe Sell, from left, Aysha Houk and Dallyn McGraw celebrate Sell's match-winning ace against Fredonia Thursday. Photo by Richard Luken / Iola Register

Iola High saw both sides of the coin Thursday.

After a painful start against unbeaten Eureka — the Tornadoes scored the game’s first 12 points en route to a 25-4, 25-10 victory — and an uneven performance against Fredonia, the Mustangs ended with a flourish.

Iola stormed back from a 15-10 deficit in the third and final set, then battled back and forth before a key sequence made the difference in a 25-23 set and match victory.

That the win came on Senior Night, to honor Ally Ellis, Chloe Sell and Jenna Curry, made it a little more special because the seniors were key to the comeback.

Iola was down 15-10 when Sell helped shift the momentum with three consecutive blistering serves that Fredonia failed to handle properly to make things considerably tighter.

Iola HIgh’s Ally Ellis goes up for a kill attempt Thursday.Photo by Richard Luken / Iola Register

A reversed call by the referee ended the spurt — he said an Iola shot landed out of bounds, overruling the linesmen who said it was in — but Iola wasn’t dissuaded.

Iola won the next point before freshman Kaysin Crusinbery had three monster serves of her own to pull Iola within 17-16.

That began a see-saw battle, with neither team able to string together consecutive points until back-to-back Yellowjacket errors gave Iola a 22-21 lead — its first advantage of the set.

Fredonia responded with a kill, and then a block at the net to retake the lead, but a key block from sophomore Rio Lohman pulled Iola even. Iola earned another point when Fredonia’s kill attempt on the next point landed out of bounds.

That set the stage for Sell — who else on Senior Night — to offer up another pin-point line drive serve that Fredonia had no chance to handle for her sixth ace to end the match.

Holman credited her team’s effort on a night when Iola’s passing — typically, the team’s strong suit — “just wasn’t going as well today.”

“Tonight may not have been Chloe’s best night passing, but she found another avenue to score points,” Holman said.

“We worked on aggressive passing in practice,” she added, as well as simply being more aggressive at the net.

Haywired passing led to mental lapses, particularly in the second set against Fredonia.

“In order for us to be successful, we have to swing,” she said, and not simply tap the ball over the net.”

Iola had few answers for an undefeated Eureka squad and its towering front line.

After cruising to Iola’s most lopsided set defeat of the season to open the match, things were a bit more competitive in the second set — until the Tornadoes strung together nine straight points midway through the frame.

Iola High’s Dallyn McGraw, left, receives the ball in a match Thursday. next to teammate Aysha Houk.Photo by Richard Luken / Iola Register

“Eureka’s good,” Holman said. “They don’t give you any free points.”

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