By John Burbridge firstname.lastname@example.org
CHARLES CITY — There are home openers, and there are home “grand” openers.
Way back in August — the 25th to be exact — the Charles City Comets volleyball team began its season while hosting a tournament in Comet Gym. So technically, that was the team’s home opener.
Ten days later, the Comets returned home to host Clear Lake and Mason City in a pair of best-of-three-sets matches. With the student section in full force while paying mass tribute to Jimmy Buffett by the time Charles City played its second match of the season against the Mohawks, you can say Thursday’s “triangular” was Charles City’s “grand” opener.
And the Comets didn’t spoil the festive mood as they recorded a pair of straight-set victories to improve to 4-3 for the season while bouncing back from Tuesday’s 3-1 road loss to Northeast Iowa Conference rival New Hampton.
“I think the biggest difference tonight from Tuesday is we looked like we were having fun out there,” Charles City head coach Maddie Fank said. “When you have fun, you play with a little more passion. That’s what we had. More passion.”
Against Clear Lake in the first match, the Comets won a long rally with the score tied at 26 in the first set before winning, 28-26.
For the most part, the second set was as close as the first before a couple of key kills from Comet senior Jodie Sindlinger provided some distance as the 25-19 final score capped the match.
After Mason City bounced back from a first-set loss to defeat Clear Lake 2-1 in the second match of the evening, the Comets and Mohawks matched up.
In the aforementioned earlier tournament, Charles City defeated Mason City 2-1 in a match where sets were played to 21.
In the first set of the rematch on Thursday, a resounding hitting kill by Sami Heyer and a blocking kill by Danielle Stock helped the Comets take a 21-15 lead before winning 25-17.
Comet junior Jennifer Martin started the second set with a pair of aces which helped Charles City take a 9-3 lead. With help of several unforced errors by the Comets, the Mohawks were able to tie the set at 13.
But a blocking kill by Sindlinder followed by a pair of attacking kills by Sindlinger with Martin assisting helped put the Comets up for good on way to a 25-18 deciding set final.
“Jodie is getting better where she doesn’t need a perfect set to put a point away,” said Fank, who also praised the defense of senior libero Sam Alinea.
“Sam has been doing a good job playing from the outside in along the back line for us,” Fank said.
Next up for the Comets is Saturdays’ tournament in Osage, which will consist of the Class 3A No. 3-ranked hosting Green Devils, and Class 4A No. 7-ranked Waverly-Shell Rock, which is favored to defend its NEIC title.
“We’re going to get an idea where we stand on Saturday,” Fank said.