Redhawks roll at home
Class 1A No. 5 North Tama notches non-conference sweep of South Hardin in home opener
TRAER — The Class 1A No. 5 North Tama volleyball team took the court at home for the first time this season on Monday, and for the first time since the girls qualified for the state tournament last year.
A loud roar greeted the Redhawks when they ran out for their warm-ups for their home opener against South Hardin, and the girls fed off that energy to earn their first home win of the year in straight sets, 25-10, 25-20, 25-15.
North Tama head coach Channing Halstead said after winning the Meskwaki Tournament over the weekend to start the season, her team was ready to take the court at home.
“We’ve been eager to show our fans what we’ve got and we didn’t get to show them everything we wanted to show them but they were excited to come out,” she said. “The way we ended last season they were all hoping to have a good crowd tonight and we did, so hopefully we give them a little more next time.”
The Redhawks (5-1) came out firing in the opening set, dominating the Tigers (0-1) in nearly every statistical category on the way to a 25-10 victory.
Set two was a more even affair, as South Hardin was able to get past the early block from North Tama and the Tigers served well. Still, the Redhawks ground out a 25-20 win, and Halstead said they maybe took their foot of the gas a bit early.
“We just kind of decided to play, we didn’t decide we wanted to play our volleyball, we just kind of decided to play what was given to us instead of playing at the highest level we could,” she said. “That’s always something with volleyball too, I feel like it’s one of those sports where it can kind of pull you down a little bit. They’ve improved from the past too, so kudos to them.”
That rut continued for North Tama through the early portion of the third set, but eventually the girls found their groove and turned the momentum around for the closing 25-15 win.
Katie Kopriva picked up right where she left off last season, leading the team with 12 kills and five aces. Karly Jans, too, looked in near mid-season form with 10 kills, but after the two known hitters a couple of fresher faces had good moments.
Carlie Gorder finished with four kills, three of which came in the third set, and Alexis Hansen was a force at the net with her block.
“I think we have added more of an arsenal,” Halstead said of her new hitters. “Alexis is a very, very nice block. She doesn’t bring as much power and flashiness but she’s so high on her attack. Gorder has developed a really nice slide, so we just have to make sure our setters are connecting with that too because it’s really effective as a non-traditional swing for defenders and a lot of blockers at that weird angle. Those two have improved a ton and will bring a lot more for us this season.”
There’s a new approach to setting as well for the Redhawks, as Isabelle Sierra is now splitting time with Grace Thorsen in the rotation. Thorsen actually led the way in assists with 12, though Sierra wasn’t far behind with 10, and Halstead said they each have a unique asset they bring onto the court.
“It works out well having those two because Isabelle has set Katie a little bit longer so she is used to her sets,” Halstead said. “Grace is a little more of a block at the front row, so we get to use the best of both worlds with what we are doing right now.”
Takoa Kopriva was the defensive stalwart she was all last year during the state tournament run, leading the way with 11 digs against the Tigers.
South Hardin was led in attacking by Ashlee Marshall, and as a team it had seven aces.
Halstead said now with a game at home under their belts and six games into the season, she is looking for her girls to show a little bit of cohesion as they move into their home tournament this weekend.
“We need to just get some consistency,” she said. “Our outside balls are sometimes really high and sometimes we throw up a good ball but the hitter isn’t ready for it, so just a little more consistency in our offense will help.”