Maddy Mosena helps Notre Dame fend off Danville's volleyball upset bid
Matt LevinsThe Hawk Eye
DANVILLE -- Maddy Mosena has some very big shoes to fill this season.
Mosena, a 5-foor-4 senior, is playing setter this season for the two-time defending Class 1A state champion Notre Dame High School volleyball team.
Jenna Bentz, a first team all-state setter last year who led the Nikes to back-to-back state championships, graduated last spring and is playing setter at Grand View University this fall.
So, just how do you replace a player like Bentz?
Quite simply, you don't.
Instead, Mosena is making the position hers, learning the hitters' tendencies and how to communicate with her teammates.
Mosena doesn't want to be the next Jenna Bentz. She wants to be the first Maddy Mosena.
"It was a big job," Mosena said after Class 1A's seventh-ranked Notre Dame's 25-10, 25-17, 20-25, 25-17 SEI Superconference South Division win over Danville on Thursday. "I felt a lot of pressure at first, but once we started playing more it got better and better. I'm still working hard and getting better."
"We are trying to piece things together right now. It's still a work in progress," Notre Dame head coach Mike Davis said. "Right now, a win is a win."
Mosena certainly did her part, putting up 38 assists on the night, 25 of them coming off kills by senior Gabby Deery, the reigning Class 1A Player of the Year and University of Iowa recruit.
Mosena, who saw some action last year and worked with Deery, Abby Korschgen and Taryn Stephens in practice last fall, is trying to learn the newer players, namely Madalynn Knapp, Aviana West and Breck McVey. Getting the timing down is a matter of practice, even with a hitter of Deery's caliber.
"I've worked with Abby Korschgen," Mosena said. "We have been together almost this whole time. Me and her are good. Gabby and I are getting better. We're working. Me and the other girls click pretty well. We've got work to do, but we're getting there."
Mosena gleaned as much knowledge as she could from Bentz the last two years. Now, she is working with assistant coach Susan Reid, a former all-state setter for New London who went on to play and coach at the college level.
"Coach Reid is helping so much," Mosena said. "She is the best supporter. She knows what she is talking about. She's helped me so much. She knows what she is talking about."
The Nikes, as they have all season, had their ups and downs against the Bears. When the Nikes are in sync, they look almost unstoppable. But then there are times when they don't seem to be on the same page.
"We're still working. It's been a journey. We'll get there some day," Mosena said. "We have a lot of new players that haven't had a lot of playing time from last year. We're adapting well with each other. We have some work to do, but we'll get there when we need to."
Danville making big strides
Danville is making remarkable progress under second-year head coach Shaelyn Thomann. The Bears took a set from Notre Dame for the first time in nearly three years.
Led by senior libero Carlea Beckman and senior middle hitter Graci Walker, the Bears are a young and very athletic team. And as they gain more cohesiveness and confidence as the season goes along, the Bears are going to surprise a lot of people.
"It felt really good with them being state champions from last year. We worked really hard to get it. We didn't give up, and I think that is the most important part about it," Beckman said. "We definitely have some things to work on, but that's just part of the game. We worked well as a team. We build each other up and we try to do our best."
"I think none of us expected to win a set, honestly, but we have been putting in a lot of work," Walker said. "It feels really good, especially since they were the state champs two years in a row. Hopefully that will helps us and get us going for the rest of the year."
"I wish we would have won all of them, but I don't know the last time Danville took a set from Notre Dame. It's been a while," Thomann said. "All of our girls' mindset this year have been tough. First thing I said when I walked in the locker room was last year when we were in the same situation we would have just given up, went back on our heels and not tried anymore. This year they did so much better."
Danville certainly made an impression on Notre Dame, which was pushed hard in the second and fourth sets, as well.
"Danville played out of their minds," Davis said. "They are not very tall, but they are very, very scrappy. They didn't let many balls hit the floor tonight."
On the horizon
Danville (0-2 overall, 0-1 South Division) and Notre Dame (9-2, 1-0) both play in the Notre Dame Tournament Saturday.
Danville plays Keokuk in its first match, while Notre Dame opens against Centerville. The tournament is set to begin at 9 a.m. at Father Minett Gymnasium.
Kills — Gabby Deery 25, Aviana West 8, Abby Korschgen 8, Taryn Stephens 4, Madalynn Knapp 2
Assists — Maddy Mosena 38
Serving — Ava Parkins 12-12, Deery 16-17 (2 aces), Mosena 12-13 (2), Knapp 21-24 (6), Emily Stutsman 10-13 (1), Stephens 9-13 (2)
Blocks — Korschgen 2, Stephens 1, Deery 1, West 1, Mosena 1
Digs — Stephens 24, Deery 15, Parkins 14, Knapp 8, Mosena 7, Breck McVey 4, West 3
Records — Notre Dame 9-2 overall (1-0 SEI Superconference South Division), Danville 0-2 (0-1)