The annual Tulip City Showdown on the volleyball court unfolds tonight at Pella High School, as the Lady Dutch host crosstown rival Pella Christian.
Pella has been off since last Tuesday, when they were defeated 3-1 by Grinnell in a hard-fought match that saw the team unable to get over the hump in close sets. Lady Dutch head coach Catie Brand says it’s important for her team to anticipate what Pella Christian is trying to do if close games play out tonight.
“When we get caught up in the fact that it’s close or that it’s a very tight ball, then we start watching the game instead of anticipating,” said Brand. “When we react to plays, we sometimes get beat; but when we’re proactive – and we’re anticipating the ball’s going to come to us – then we’re more likely to pull together.”
While Pella High has had a week off to refresh and prepare themselves for tonight’s match, the Pella Christian volleyball team is coming off of a five-game weekend that saw them go 3-2 in their own tournament. The Lady Eagles have shown plenty of diversity on offense in recent matches, and head coach Cindy Nikkel says that growth is being spurred by her players’ desire to spend extra time honing their skills.
“That’s been kind of exciting, because with Logan [De Graaf] and Maddie [Fopma] in the middle, they’ve picked up any slack we’ve needed them to; and Becca [Gritters] and Jora [Vander Hart] have been picking up the pace on the outside,” said Nikkel. “What’s exciting to me is we’ve had a lot of players – practice will go to 5:45 sometimes; sometimes even later – and they’re still saying, ‘Coach, can I stay after and hit some more balls.’”
Pella Christian’s overall record is at 10-12; while their conference mark is 1-1. Pella High carries a 7-12 overall record into tonight’s match and are 0-2 in the Little Hawkeye Conference. Varsity competition from Pella High School is slated for a 7:15 p.m. first serve tonight.