No. 8 Redhawks rebuff Collins-Maxwell
TRAER — Memories of losing last year’s postseason opener danced in the thoughts of North Tama head coach Channing Halstead during a timeout midway through the first set of Monday’s Class 1A Region 4 quarterfinal.
Instead of trying to shake them off, Halstead wanted her team to embrace them.
Enduring an unfortunate flashback and upset-minded Collins-Maxwell, the eighth-ranked Redhawk volleyball team fought off a set point and eventually pounded out a three-game sweep of the Spartans, 26-24, 25-9, 25-18, to advance to Thursday’s regional semifinals.
North Tama (27-7), which closed last season by sweeping Gladbrook-Reinbeck before losing to the Rebels five days later in regional play, couldn’t help but let a shadow of those same doubts creep into their minds as Collins-Maxwell put up more than a fight nearly 40 days after being swept by North Tama on the same court during Iowa Star Conference play.
The Spartans (18-8) trailed 16-7 in the opening set before rattling off an 8-0 run that prompted Halstead’s first timeout of the match.
“It was just our errors, but then again I think that was OK because we are young and we didn’t end last season how we wanted to,” said Halstead. “I thought it was OK that we went through that little bit of a rough patch because we learn from it and we recovered and we finished.
“Sometimes I think we need to get beat around a little bit to get us going. It’s not like we started out poor but just had a stretch where we had some errors and kind of freaked out a little bit.”
The Redhawks fired out of the timeout by turning to 1A’s fourth-leading attacker. Sophomore right-side hitter Katie Kopriva put down her second kill of the set then teamed with Carlie Gorder for a block, helping North Tama hedge Collins-Maxwell’s surge.
The Spartans eventually pulled back ahead, 23-22, but Karly Jans got the serve back for the Redhawks with a successful tip over the C-M block. Isabel Sierra later broke a 24-all tie by sending an off-target pass over the net for her only kill of the match, and Kopriva turned a free ball into the final point of the first set.
Now free and clear of the first-set nerves that seemed to plague them, the Redhawks rolled through the Spartans in the second go-round. Carissa Calderwood and Sierra served up a 7-1 run for North Tama with a combined three aces, and Abby Deboef got two of her five kills during the run.
Collins-Maxwell broke serve, but North Tama took it right back. Gorder got two kills and Deboef added another as the Redhawks led 21-6 before closing out the most lopsided of three set victories.
“We talked all week about if things don’t go our way, we can’t overreact,” Halstead said. “These girls have played so much volleyball, they know what they need to do in that scenario. I think we did a really good job of serving aggressive and staying aggressive.”
Brianda Bane tried to keep Collins-Maxwell in the match with her potent attack from the middle, but it wasn’t enough. Bane finished with a match-high 18 kills, but it wasn’t enough to keep the Spartans’ season alive.
Lydia Schafer served up a 5-0 run powered by three-straight aces, and Kopriva finished off a 13 kill-performance with seven successful attacks in the final set.
Jans led the Redhawks with 14 kills as the team’s most prolific front line provided too much punch for the Spartans to counter with their strong middle hitters.
“We try to push it pin to pin, that way a middle has to work and that way we should get some seams for our swingers,” said Halstead. “We use Katie back row too and I really have been impressed with Abby Deboef. As a freshman, she comes in and doesn’t make errors and sometimes she scores too, and Lydia produced for us in the middle too. That’s part of what we try to do.”
Deboef and Schafer had five kills apiece, and Sierra finished with 34 assists.
Takoa Kopriva and Katie Kopriva led the team with six digs each, while Gorder had a team-high three blocks. Katelyn Kucera contributed five digs and was North Tama’s top server, going 19-for-19 with an ace.
Next up for the Redhawks is a rematch with No. 11 Montezuma at 7 p.m. Thursday in Traer. The two teams met in North Tama’s tournament earlier this season, with the Redhawks winning a 2-1 battle by scores of 21-15, 15-21, 15-13.