Lily Goos wanted to be out on the volleyball court in the worst way when Nevada took on rival Roland-Story in a pivotal Heart of Iowa Conference match of the season back on Sept. 17.
Nevada and Roland-Story were clearly the two best teams in the HOIC, and the match was going to end up deciding the conference title. But Goos had spent nearly a month in rehab mode.
She suffered a severe sprain and ligament damage against Ankeny Centennial during a tournament in Ankeny on Aug. 29. As she was healing, Goos went through contact tracing after COVID-19 exposure and spent two weeks in quarantine.
The Roland-Story match was the first for which she was cleared to return to action. But head coach Jonny Sneiderman wasn’t ready to put her out there just yet.
“I wasn’t going to put her in, not knowing the health of her ankle,” Sneiderman said.
So Goos had to sit back and watch as Roland-Story swept the Cubs. The Norse went on to wrap up the conference title last week, denying Nevada a chance to three-peat.
“It really made me want to push through and keep going,” Goos said. “I’m staying really mentally positive and saying to myself, ‘I can do this.’ I’m doing it for my team.”
Goos got back on the court two days later at the Johnson, Bishop and Beider Tournament in Bondurant. She had 30 digs, 22 kills and four aces over five matches.
As the season continued to progress, the 6-foot-1 prodigy kept improving. She was Nevada’s most dominant all-around force in a 25-13, 25-9, 25-11 sweep of West Marshall in Monday’s Class 3A regional quarterfinal round at Nevada.
Goos recorded 12 kills, 10 digs and two blocks and aces apiece against the Trojans.
She showed great range, hammering down spikes from the left side and also hurting West Marshall with several long kills from the back row. She was all over the court in the back row, saving several balls and doing an excellent job positioning her passes so Katelyn Kingsbury could have effective sets.
“Tonight, she came to life,” Sneiderman said. “She’s a super hard-working kid, so to see her have success was really exciting.”
Goos played as much club ball over the summer as she could to get ready for the 2020 season. She also spent a lot of time working with Premier Training to get stronger and quicker.
That helped her recover quickly from her injury to make an immediate impact for Nevada — one that goes far beyond her skills on the court.
“I’m super high-energy,” Goos said. “Pumping up our team when we get down and keeping a positive attitude is very helpful.”
Goos is filling in the shoes left by all-state outside hitter Kacie Rewerts. Rewerts is currently playing Division I volleyball at Drake.
“They’re very big shoes,” Goos said. “I’m just doing my best to follow in her footsteps.”
Last season, Rewerts mentioned in an interview that the person on the team who most resembled herself was Goos.
“She reminded me a lot of myself when I was a freshman middle (blocker),” Rewerts said. “She was there to have fun and was always ready to learn. She brings a can-do attitude and is always willing to improve on the next ball. Lily has a ton of potential, and I am very excited to see what she can do for Nevada volleyball in the future.”
Goos doesn’t just mirror Rewerts in athleticism and work ethic. Like her mentor, she’s also a free spirit.
“I make a lot of jokes and silly dances,” Goos said.
Her teammates have a tough time deciding which dance they want her to break out.
“She’s got a lot of them,” Cubs middle blocker Shelbi Hazlitt said. “I guess I like all of them.”
Goos’ emergence has made playing that much more fun for teammates. She’s also made Nevada a complete team at the net.
The Cubs already had two all-conference-level players up front in middle blocker Sydney Mosinski and right-side hitter Hannah Thomsen entering the season. With Goos, the Cubs can attack from all over the court, and that has made life a lot easier for Kingsbury at setter.
“I just have to get the ball up and she swings away,” Kingsbury said. “Lily’s very aggressive with her swing. When she gets a hit, it’s normally gonna be very good.”
Sneiderman likes the balance Goos brings to the team.
“Our objective was never to fully replace Kacie,” Sneiderman said. “But it was to identify our strengths with this group and her as an attacker, blocker and defender is one of those strengths.”
Her aggressiveness is what stands out the most to Sneiderman.
“She’s a really good, aggressive serve-receive passer for us,” Sneidermann said. “We’ve only got four people that pass, so having that stability is great. She’s also a really aggressive server — that comes high-risk, high-reward. She’s a lengthy defender both at the net and floor and a really aggressive attacker for us.”
Through the regional quarterfinals Goos has amassed 121 digs, 104 kills, 26 blocks and 16 aces in just 50 sets.
“It’s been really fun playing with this team and being able to step up with such amazing girls on the court,” Goos said. “The passers really help me get those hits down.”
The Cubs are gonna need Goos at her absolute best Wednesday. The Cubs (21-15) travel to Clarion to take on a Clarion-Goldfield-Dows team ranked second in 3A and sports a 25-2 record.