DURANT, Iowa − The potential was evident from the start. The consistency wasn’t.
Playing in its final competition before the River Valley Conference tournament begins Tuesday, the Durant volleyball team (12-18, 2-6) split four matches at its home tournament Saturday, defeating Maquoketa and Grinnell but losing to Davenport West and Fort Madison.
Durant coach Renee Meyer talked about the importance of getting ahead early after Thursday’s five-set loss to West Liberty, and the Wildcats jumped on Maquoketa for a 21-5 first-set victory before closing with a 21-15 win in the second game to earn a straight-set win.
Kamryn Meyer was efficient on the offensive attack, converting six of eight kill attempts, while Ruby Kappeler provided 17 assists and had eight digs on defense.
Unable to keep the momentum on their side, the Wildcats dropped their second match to Davenport West 21-19, 21-14.
“I think we just have to communicate more,” Kamryn said. “We haven’t been communicating a lot lately, and I think once we do that it will all come together.”
Durant got back on track with a 21-15, 21-5 straight-set victory over Grinnell and went on a 14-0 run to close out the second game.
But the Wildcats had another letdown directly following an impressive performance.
A team that has built a resilient identity in recent weeks after forcing a fifth game in four of its previous six best-of-five matches, despite falling behind in each of them, couldn’t dig itself out of holes in either set against Fort Madison.
The Bloodhounds never trailed after taking a 4-3 lead in the first game, closing the match with a 21-8, 21-15 victory over the Wildcats.
It marked the first time that the Wildcats haven’t gone to a deciding set in at least one match during a tournament and they now have a quick turnaround before heading into the biggest tournament so far this season.
“I thought we played decent at times and I thought we struggled at times,” Renee said. “We have all the ability to play with anyone in the conference. It just depends on whether we bring our A game or not.”
There’s little doubt that Durant can play with anyone in the River Valley Conference, which features six teams that have 20 or more wins.
Durant forced deciding sets against five of those teams but lost them all, its most recent coming Thursday against West Liberty in which it rallied back from two sets down to tie it but didn’t have enough gas left in the tank to complete the comeback.
“If we ever put it all together, we’re going to be dangerous,” Renee said after the match.
Time, though, is running out.