Paton-Churdan's Danielle Hoyle (37) knocks the ball over the net during the Rockets' 3-2 win over Fort Dodge St. Edmond in a Class 1A regional opener Monday, Oct. 19 in Fort Dodge.  Fort Dodge Messenger photo by Britt Kudla


Down two sets, battle-tested Rockets capture 1A regional win


Sports Editor

Experience prevailed in the opening round.

Backed into a corner, trailing two sets to none, Paton-Churdan regrouped. Facing the end of their 2020 season, the Rockets locked in, countering with powerful kills and spirited returns, firing off a comeback for the ages.
P-C miraculously won the next three sets in Fort Dodge, two of which came relatively easy, knocking off Fort Dodge St. Edmond in a five-set thriller Monday night in the first round of Class 1A regional play.

P-C (10-9) was in need of a boost, struggling to return St. Edmond’s pin-point serves in the opening two sets. First-year head coach Tressa Rasmussen sprang into action, gathering her athletes prior to the third set. Any further mishaps would send them home with a disappointing loss to dwell on all winter. Out of instinct, the Rockets transformed into a dominant juggernaut, steam-rolling the Gaels in an ensuing three-set sweep. The offense clicked, riding the power of a strong service game and the high-flying acrobatics of senior Danielle Hoyle. P-C connected on 109 of their 113 serves while Hoyle tallied a team-best 28 kills.

It took awhile, but once the Rockets woke up, St. Edmond found theirselves in a world of hurt.

“Once we settled in and adjusted to their style of serving, we were able to get better passes and therefore have more solid attacks up at the net,” Rasmussen said. “During the last three sets, we dominated at the net. The girls had a record night at the serving line.”
Paton-Churdan’s unforgiving schedule helped mold the Rockets for situations similar to Monday’s deep hole. With a slew of Rolling Valley Conference teams ranked at one point or another, P-C’s repeated competition provided the necessary preparation.

“A post season win like this represents how hard these girls have been working,” first-year head coach Tressa Rasmussen said. “The Rolling Valley conference had a lot of good competition this season, and that has helped us prepare for regional play.”
Conference champion Coon Rapids-Bayard, Boyer Valley and CAM combined for 64 total wins this fall while three others, which now includes Paton-Churdan, won at least 10 games. A sneaky strong conference pushed the Rockets to the brink of playoff success, while a rejuvenated front line allowed them to leap frog their tricky opponent. The Rockets only missed four serve attempts all night while they compiled 51 total kills.

After losing the opening sets 25-22 and 25-19, P-C rallied to win set three 25-15, set four by a score of 27-25 before finally dominating the tie-breaking fifth set by a convincing score of 15-6. The jubilation and relief was palpable once the winning point tumbled to the floor. Paton-Churdan had stared elimination square in the face, only to persevere and stand tall in victory.

“It is hard to come back and win a match after losing the first two sets, but the girls never gave up,” Rasmussen said. “I’m beyond proud of them for battling their way to a win.”

P-C senior Tessa Steimel recorded 13 kills of her own while Chloe Berns tallied a team-best six aces to go with an impressive 42 assists. Hoyle led the Rockets with 28 digs, as they finished with 93 digs overall.
The Rockets drew a favorable second round matchup, traveling to AGWSR High School Oct. 21 in Ackley. The Cougars were 9-16 overall after sweeping Colo-Nesco in their Region 3 opener. P-C lost, 3-0, ending their season in the regional quarterfinals with a 10-10 record.


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