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Volleyball: Sheldon sits atop Iowa Class 3A

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sports Worthington, 56187
Worthington Minnesota 300 11th Street / P.O. Box 639 56187

SHELDON, Iowa —Now that the Sheldon is ranked No. 1 in Iowa Class 3A volleyball, they know teams will be going hard at them for the rest of the year.

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That’s OK, says head coach Eric Maassen. The Orabs are a veteran group that has been through a lot of volleyball wars already.

Only two players graduated from Sheldon’s 25-10 squad of a year ago, which lost in the first round of the district tournament. But the Orabs finished in a three-way tie for the Siouxland Conference championship and graduated only two players off that team. With five returning starters in 2013, they are led by senior tri-captains Jessica Van Beek (a second-team All-State 5-10 outside hitter), Marti Vogel (5-9 outside hitter) and Allie Jongewaard (setter).

The Orabs moved to No. 1 in the rankings on Sept. 12.

“They were very excited when I told ’em. They were very surprised as well, not that they didn’t think they were deserving,” said Maassen Friday. “We talked about it, that No. 1 isn’t necessarily our concern right now, but we want to be No. 1 at the end of the season.”

Maassen says his team is good in all areas, but it leads with defense. “We want to make it as hard as possible for the other team to score,” he said.

Offensively, teams tend to gear their own defenses to stop the bullets Van Beek can deliver, but Vogel is also a strong hitter.

The Orabs — like all good teams — aren’t afraid to keep the pressure on opponents once they have them reeling. Maassen seems well aware that it’s hard to stay on top without a healthy killer instinct.

“We talk a lot about playing to our level, not to the level of the other team,” he said.

Through the remainder of the volleyball season, however, Sheldon will also need to be prepared to dig deeper against similarly outstanding teams. The Orabs have a tough contest coming up against Maurice-Orange City/Floyd Valley (which shared the conference title with them last season en route to a state championship) Thursday at MOC/FV. Earlier this season, Sheldon defeated the Dutchmen two games to one in their own tournament.

More tough contests are on the way against strong programs like Sioux Center and Unity Christian.

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