Dodgers open vs. No. 14 Dowling

-Messenger photo by Britt Kudla Fort Dodge Kacee Gollab (17) and Kiana Tuney attempt to block a shot against Dowling Catholic on Monday

Toni Cochrane made her official return to the courts as head coach of the Fort Dodge volleyball team Monday night.

But it was 14th-ranked (Class 5A) West Des Moines Dowling that left the Dodger gym with a victory.

The Maroons scored a sweep over FDSH, 25-13, 25-14 and 25-10, in the season opener for both CIML Iowa Conference schools.

Cochrane, who earned all-state honors as a player for the Dodgers before directing the team to two state tournament appearances over two-plus decades, found plenty of positives from the night.

“We’ve been working and stressing defense in practice, and I thought we did a good job of that,” Cochrane said. “The offense will come, and it will come off playing successful defense. We battled, and we made sure to put a lot of pressure on Dowling.”

Kacee Gollob, a returning senior starter for the Dodgers, recorded a team-high seven kills and five blocks. Four of those five blocks were solos.

Brooke Erickson added 17 digs, Molly Hartman 11 and Ciarra Love eight. Hartman and Love were a combined 17-for-18 serving on the night.

“We did a lot of really good things — we’ve just got to clean up some other areas,” Cochrane said. “This was the first night out and against a very quality opponent and program.”

The Maroons went 34-10 last year and qualified for the state tournament. They graduated six seniors from that group, though, putting out three juniors, two sophomores, a senior and a ninth-grader to start versus Fort Dodge.

Jacey Koethe, a senior, led the team in kills with eight. Anna Flynn, a 10th-grader, recorded a team-high seven aces.

The Dodgers return to action on Tuesday when they compete in the Dallas Center-Grimes Tournament beginning at 4:30 p.m. Next home action for Fort Dodge is Sept. 11 vs. No. 11 Waukee.

Dowling also swept the other matches, winning junior varsity (25-8, 25-7), sophomore (25-5, 25-11) and freshman (25-9, 25-12) matches.