No. 5 Johnston too much for Dodgers

Frustration was evident on the face of Fort Dodge head volleyball coach Tonia Burrell Tuesday night.

After seeing her Dodgers fall in straight sets to third-ranked (Class 5A) Johnston, Burrell was bothered by the lack of fundamentals she saw.

Scores were 25-8, 25-12 and 25-17.

“When you are playing the third-ranked team in 5A, you can’t make mental mistakes,” Burrell said. “You can’t make small mistakes or big ones; there is no room for error.

“We played so poorly that we didn’t even allow Johnston to show us everything they had.”

The Dragons (15-1 overall) jumped all over Fort Dodge (9-21) from the start, opening a 10-1 lead. They were never threatened in the first game, and that carried over to the second.

Taylor Joens, a senior who will play for Div. II Southern Illinois-Edwardsville next year, led the way with 12 kills and a handful of blocks.

Madeline Miller and Hayley Dotseth each added nine kills for Johnston, which qualified for state last year and has won nine matches in a row.

Tiana Mericle had a team-high six kills for the Dodgers, but Burrell was disappointed that total wasn’t more.

“We couldn’t get Tiana the ball enough,” she said. “Our passing wasn’t on and we let too many balls get away from us.

“It’s frustrating because we come out and play so well at times, and other times we look like this (on Tuesday night).”

Kari Grindberg added eight digs and Lexi Astor had three blocks for Fort Dodge, which put together its best rallies in the third.

The two teams were tied at 6-all, but the Dragons had a little burst to give themselves a cushion. Fort Dodge battled back after falling behind 18-12, cutting the deficit to four before Johnston scored the final four points of the match.

“Johnston is a very, very good team and Joens is a great player,” Burrell said. “They have volleyball knowledge on the court that we are just lacking as an entire team at the moment.”

Outside of a loss to No. 7 (4A) Cedar Rapids Xavier in a tournament earlier this year, the Dragons have not lost a set, posting a 38-2 overall mark.

The Dodgers return to action next Tuesday at home vs. Marshalltown. Start time is set for 7:30 p.m.

Fort Dodge won the sophomore contest, 17-21, 21-17 and 15-11 and the junior varsity match, 18-21, 21-14, 15-8. They lost both freshman matches, as the A fell 21-13, 21-10, and the B lost, 21-16, 21-16.