The Fort Dodge volleyball team needs some momentum.
Playing for the final time at home Tuesday night, the Dodgers were given a perfect opportunity to do just that vs. Marshalltown.
Instead, FDSH and head coach Tonia Burrell were denied in five, falling by scores of 25-15, 20-25, 20-25, 25-13 and 15-8.
"You just can't let a 23-20 lead turn into a 25-23 defeat," said Burrell, who is in her first year leading the Dodgers. "You just can't do that.
"You have a team down and you have to finish them. There is no way around that."
Ashley Altman led Fort Dodge (9-22 overall, 0-1 in CIC Northern) with 18 kills, adding 24 digs. Lexi Astor had 16 kills and 30 digs, while Tiana Mericle recorded 11 kills and five solo blocks.
"These seniors, they really wanted this one," Burrell said. "It hurts because we played so well in stretches, but we also let up way too often.
"We didn't play to win (late in the match); we played not to lose."
The Bobcats (9-14, 1-0) used the momentum they gained in the fourth to jump out early in the deciding fifth.
Marshalltown's Leiah Paustian, a sophomore, had several game-changing kills as the Bobcats rallied from a 19-15 deficit in the fourth by scoring 10 of the final 15 points.
"That was the difference," Burrell said. "You can't go to a fifth there, you have to finish it in the fourth.
"We are at the point in our season where we have to get some wins to build confidence for the postseason."
Fourth straight points by Marshalltown gave the visitors a 6-3 lead in the final set. The Dodgers cut it to 6-5 behind kills by Altman and Mericle, but that was as close as FDSH would get.
Bobcat senior Lindsey Ricken made it 14-8 with a serving ace before an error gave the Bobcats their first league win of the season.
Maddie Egli had 43 assists and Mackenzie Elsbecker was a perfect 20-for-20 serving on the night.
Fort Dodge found out recently they will be grouped in Class 4A, Region 5 with No. 5 Charles City and Decorah. Those two teams will play in the quarterfinals, with the winner facing the Dodgers on Thursday, Oct. 31.
"We are going to find out right away what a talented team can do (in the postseason) if we play Charles City," Burrell said. "They are a tradition-rich team that knows how to win, and that is something we're still trying to figure out."
The Comets were 4A state champions last fall.
Next up for the Dodgers will be action next Tuesday at the Perry Invitational.
Fort Dodge picked up wins in the freshman A (25-17, 25-20) and B (25-6, 25-14) matches, along with sophomores (25-13, 25-12, 15-5). The junior varsity lost, 25-23, 25-21.