AVOCA – In a back-and-forth contest that exemplified Western Iowa Conference volleyball, it was Riverside’s play at the net that made the difference.

The trio of Izzy Bluml, Veronica Andrusyshyn and Ella Hensley were the difference makers in Thursday’s five set win over AHSTW, 12-25, 25-19, 25-15, 16-25, 15-5, on the Lady Vikes’ home floor.

“It was very important. We had to get up on the blocks and we just had to block and come out on top and believe in ourselves,” said Andrusyshyn, who had nine kills on the evening.

Bluml also noted that getting out to a big early lead in the deciding set – a lead of 10-4 at one point – was key.

“We just jumped out in the last set and that’s really how we finished,” she said. “A lot of our ... tournament games have gone to three, but this was our first (conference match) that we took to five.”

AHSTW took the first set, using four- and five-point runs to build a comfortable lead before Megan Wise ended it with a kill for the Lady Vikes. The Lady Dawgs battled back and broke open a close game late, using Hensley’s triple kills for the set’s final three points.

After the Lady Dawgs controlled the third set to take a 2-1 edge, the Lady Vikes used a a 13-4 run to build an 18-9 lead in the fourth set, and eventually lead 22-13. An Andrusyshyn kill and two errors by the Lady Vikes gave the visitors hope, but a kill and an ace serve by Kailey Jones closed out the set. tied the match at 2-apiece.

It was all ‘Dawgs in the race to 15, and a block by Hensley and Bluml sealed the victory.

“We have a habit of dropping the first set to teams, then we kind of settle,” said coach Brooke Flathers. “We’ve learned to control the ball on our side and do what we can to put the ball down.

“We controlled the net real well in terms of kills and blocks.”

Hensley, Bluml and Andrusyshyn combined for 34 kills for the Lady Dawgs (11-4, 2-0 WIC), with Hensley leading the way with 15. Kenna Ford had 36 assists. Statistics weren’t immediately available for AHSTW, who fell to 1-7, 0-3 WIC.

To reach Brian Rathjen, send correspondence to sports@ant-news.com or phone (712) 243-2624.