By contrast, the Cardinals (1-5, 0-2) appeared to lose their confidence as the match continued. Maquoketa actually played fairly well in the opening frame, but as Central DeWitt answered the Cardinals’ attacks, their youth caught up with them, leading to a multitude of mistakes.
“I definitely think that’s a lack of experience and a lack of confidence,” Maquoketa coach Jill Schawl said. “We graduated nine kids last year from a heck of a team, so I didn’t really anticipate us to hit our stride until later in the season. It’s definitely a bummer to see them dissipate that badly in sets two and three, but it’s a learning experience.
“I think these kids are talented, but they don’t have that experience yet.”
The lack of experience was never more apparent than when the Sabers built their big leads. Other than senior Aubree Taylor, none of the Cardinals had been in that situation in a varsity match before, which allowed Central DeWitt to play as aggressive as it wanted because of the cushion it had behind it.
“When a team gets out on you by that much, you’re rattled,” Schawl said. “I give DeWitt a lot of credit. They served really aggressively because they could. When you’re up by 10 points, if you whale a ball way out of bounds, oh well. They were in the driver’s seat the whole time, and they definitely took advantage.”
The Sabers’ other strength was their back line, which came up with several crucial digs to extend points long enough for Central DeWitt to force Maquoketa into a mistake, keeping the Sabers’ scoring runs going and increasing the pressure on the Cardinals.
“My senior leadership of Becca Grell and Steph Schrader in the back row (stepped up),” Kuehn said. “They guarded that back line and kept the girls up and focused.”