GRUNDY CENTER - Grundy Center's volleyball team got its run to the state tournament off and rolling Tuesday night.
The Spartans served up 19 aces during a three-set win over GMG and disposed of the Wolverines in less than an hour during a Class 1A regional quarterfinal.
Winning its 30th match of the season, the top-ranked Spartans eliminated GMG 25-5, 25-7, 25-10.
T-R PHOTO BY TROY HYDE
Grundy Center sophomore libero Riley Sents had a team-high 11 digs in the Spartans’
three-game win over GMG on Tuesday night. The top-ranked Spartans will play Colo-NESCO at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the second round of Class 1A regional play in Grundy Center.
"Once we got through those first couple of points, we began to hit on all cylinders," Grundy Center coach Darwin Sents said. "It was a good performance."
With some big wins over top notch competition this season - including a victory over Class 5A Ankeny this past weekend - anything less than a trip to the state tournament in Cedar Rapids later this month would be considered an upset for many.
The next opponent on the path to state for the Spartans will be Colo-NESCO, which easily disposed of Meskawki Settlement School on Tuesday night. That match will be played at 7 p.m. next Tuesday in Grundy Center.
"They are one at a time for us," Sents said. "The minute we start to look all the way to state, is the minute we end up losing. We can't look past anyone."
GMG claimed a 2-1 lead early in the first game, but the leads were very few far and between. Grundy Center quickly bounced back with 10 straight points to take a commanding lead. During that 10-0 run, Sam Meyers blasted three kills, while Heather Hook served up two aces and slapped down a kill.
The opening game continued to go the way of the Spartans after the run. Libero Riley Sents served eight straight points to get Grundy Center to game point. in that span, Sents recorded two aces and Meyers collected four kills and a block.
"We've had places during the season where we have played well," GMG coach Darlene Koster said. "We just weren't able to string together a full match. And tonight, the fact that we had a hard time with our serve receive played a big factor in that."
The Spartans (30-4) scored the first six points of the second game, led by Peyton Ralston's two aces. Noel Saak then turned in two aces and one kill to push the lead to 10-1, and the lead eventually grew to 16-4 following a kill by freshman Katie Lindeman.
The Wolverines stopped the long run after Caitlin Appelgate recorded a kill, but Meyers came back with a kill and two aces to make it 19-5 and eventually the Spartans went on to win 25-7.
Ackerman recorded two of her eight kills in the match on back-to-back plays in the final game to put Grundy Center up early.
GMG managed to get to double-digits but was overmatched by the Spartans, who feature two future Division I volleyball players in Meyers and Hook.
Grundy Center had five aces in Game 3 and Meyers served up three of them on consecutive points in the middle of the frame. Meyer finished with a team-high 12 kills, five aces, four digs and three blocks in the match.
"The 19 aces we had is a high number for us," Darwin Sents said. "The focus for us is to just serve tough. The nice thing was that even when it wasn't an ace, we put them in a position where they had a hard time setting anything up."
Hook delivered 24 assists, five aces and four kills, while Ackerman added three aces and six digs to go along with her eight kills. Ackerman also was 7-for-7 in serving.
Saak added three kills, three aces and two blocks, while Riley Sents contributed 11 digs and two aces was a team-best 11-for-11 in serving. Ralston added 10 digs, and Kennedy Buss turned in three kills and two blocks.
Darwin Sents will preach one game at a time throughout this postseason. He also wants to see his team perform at a high level in every match despite the numbers on the scoreboard.
"We want to keep our game at a high level," the Grundy Center coach said. "We will be fine if we just play good Grundy Center volleyball."
Koster admits it was a tough season for her Wolverines, but she hopes the fact that they lose only one senior from the starting lineup will help build something for the future.
"We want them to be able to find time for playing on the courts in the offseason," Koster said. "We only lose the one senior starter and we have some good kids coming back."
Meyers will play collegiately at Drake University, while Hook will attend Northern Iowa and play collegiately for the Panthers. ... Members of the Grundy Center crowd sported pink shirts, shoes and even dresses, showing their support for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. ... GMG finished the season with just one victory. ... Colo-NESCO beat Meskwaki Settlement 25-11, 25-8, 25-7. ... GMG won 21 points from Grundy Center, and eight of those points came off Spartan serving errors. ... Appelgate led the Wolverines with three digs, while Olivia Barriitt had a team-high two kills and one dig.