The first meeting of the season between the volleyball teams from Pella Christian and Pella High will take place tonight in the Tulip City, albeit with a slightly different venue. While Pella High’s East Gym is having a new floor installed – and to accommodate the number of fans expected to attend – the match will be played at P.H. Kuyper Gymnasium on the Central College campus.
Pella Christian senior Jasmin Schelhaas says the match is an important one in terms of the race for a conference title.
“It is a big match-up for the Little Hawkeye Conference,” says Schelhaas. “We know we have to work hard, we’re going to prepare and get ready for the game, and we know that we’re ready to play.”
Schelhaas’s teammate, Cali Vink, adds that they expect nothing but the best from their cross-town rivals.
“Pella will bring their ‘A’ game, they always have, and it’s the Pella/Pella Christian game, so everyone’s there and it’s such a big atmosphere with everyone cheering and [making it] really loud,” says Vink. “We’re just going to expect them [Pella] to bring their ‘A’ game and we have to do the same – we need to run quick offenses and just do our game.”
On the other side of the net, the Lady Dutch are trying to avoid slipping into an early 0-2 hole in the league standings. Pella High head coach Bob Fessler says his team has been working on a number of the physical fundamentals of the game, but have also been trying to build up psychological toughness as well with simulations of game situations.
“We’ve worked on some of the mental toughness; doing things in practice like calling timeouts intentionally during games to try to district our kids so that when they get back into a drill they really have to refocus on what we’re doing, what was the score, where they are at on the court– basic things like that,” says Fessler.
“We’re being very intentional about drawing their focus back in and narrowing it down so when we do restart, we have a better chance at getting off on the right foot.”
Fessler recognizes the strength of his opponent tonight, and says it will be one in a series of challenging matches within the conference this season.
“I’ve seen Pella Christian, they’re strong – they’re going to be tough to beat,” says Fessler. “We’ll have our hands full in the conference. Our conference is strong, and it’s going to take our best effort every night.”
In addition to the excitement surrounding the competition, Pella Christian’s Sarah Faber says the two teams are also challenging their fans to support their respective schools with a non-perishable food drive that will benefit the local food bank.
“We are doing a rivalry challenge between Pella and Pella Christian. We’re doing a canned food drive for the Pella Food Shelf,” says Faber. “We just ask that everyone brings their cans down to the fieldhouse [at Central] and hopefully we raise a lot of food for the Pella Food Shelf.”
The Varsity match will begin at 7:15 p.m. tonight in the Kuyper Gymnasium at Central College. The JV match will also be held in the gymnasium, while the freshman contest will take place in the adjacent fieldhouse.