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Dodger season comes to an end

The Fort Dodge volleyball team’s postseason ended before it began on Friday, when the school officially announced the Dodgers were entering a two-week quarantine period due to positive COVID-19 tests within the program.

Head coach Martha Mericle’s squad was preparing for a Class 5A, Region 5 opener at third-ranked Cedar Falls, which was scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 22. Fort Dodge, which will finish with a 6-17 overall record, had just played Marshalltown at home on Tuesday to conclude the regular season. The Dodgers lost in four sets, but had won four of their last seven matches — including victories over CIML Iowa Conference rivals Ames and Mason City.

“I’m sad our season had to end this way, versus us getting to play another match and go out with a fight,” Mericle said. “I’m so proud of this team and their year. I saw great growth and improvement from day one to where we ended. I wish I could keep them together and keep playing and keep improving.”

Senior Kiana Touney led the Dodgers with 198 kills and 31 service aces. Senior Olivia Bell recorded a team-best 311 assists, while junior Tory Bennett tallied 234 digs.

Senior Brooke Hansen finished with the most blocks on the squad, with junior Tjaden Pettit-Johnston right behind. Senior Cheyenne Miller-Hameed was FDSH’s most accurate server.

“I was blessed with eight amazing seniors who will be greatly missed next year,” Mericle said. “This was a great first year for me. I’m excited to get work this offseason to keep growing and improving the younger girls in their skills, knowledge, and love of the game.”

Touney, Bell, Hansen, Miller-Hameed, Alexis Bass, Jacy Daniel, Chloe Wertz and Daesha McDonald were seniors on the 2020 Dodger roster.

Bennett, Pettit-Johnston and Alexis Hiracheta are slated to return for their senior years next fall, while current sophomores Maggie Elsbecker, Lainey Maehl and Victoria Touney and freshman Taytum Davidson all saw the court as underclassmen.

“While this is not the way the team wanted to end the season, the health and safety of the players and coaches is our priority,” the Fort Dodge Community School District said in a statement.

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