Tim Martin described it as one of the pinnacles of his six years coaching the Muscatine volleyball team.
The Muskies defeated Bettendorf on Tuesday night for the first time since Oct. 18, 2011, and did it in the same five-set fashion, winning 14-25, 25-18, 25-20, 16-25, 16-14.
“To be able to do something like that against a high-caliber team like Bettendorf, and to play five games shows a lot of heart and a lot of character from those girls,” Martin said.
Muscatine fell 25-14 in the first set and looked well on its way to its 13th straight defeat to the Bulldogs, with the previous 12 all ending in straight sets.
The Muskies’ front line, which has been one of the team’s greatest strengths this season, got them back on track with stingy defense at the net and a relentless attack that collected 44 total kills.
Muscatine, which entered the night with a Class 5A-best 5.05 blocks per game, was once again causing fits for opposing hitters while collecting 23 blocks.
“With Kayla doing what she’s been doing up there, Hannah Wieskamp, Hannah Reynolds and Madi Petersen, they’re all doing a great job up there,” Martin said. “They’re challenging each hitter, so if we can make that hitter alter their shot a little bit, it’s a ball we can play, it’s a ball that’s out, whatever it takes. Those small things add up. We don’t have to have that big huge block, but once you get one of them, we’re in their head. They got to think about their shots.”
The Muskies quickly rebounded from that first-set loss, winning the next two including a 13-3 run to finish the third set and erase a 17-12 deficit.
“I think when they got that first win, they felt it,” Martin said. “They realized that it was possible, that they’re just not going to turn around and back away and stop playing. They knew it was possible and you could just see it in their face.”
After dropping the fourth set and falling behind 11-9 in the fifth, the Muskies pulled off one last comeback to end a seven-year drought.
“It felt unbelievable,” Scholz said. “It still hasn’t sunk in. The fact that we beat a team that was ranked second in the MAC just blows my mind.”
Scholz tied Reynolds with a team-high 10 kills, while Hannah Wieskamp chipped in eight and Petersen seven. Scholz also paced the Muskies with seven blocks, while Vada Fridley led with 10 digs.
“As a team we just really clicked and all played lights out,” Reynolds said.
Muscatine (5-4, 3-1) will compete at an invitational in Clinton on Saturday.
“It gives a lot of confidence because Bettendorf was ranked second in the MAC,” senior Kendra Eller said of Tuesday’s win. “Now that we’ve beaten them, it proves that we can play with any team and beat any team.”