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Redhawks raise the bar

North Tama volleyball leaves legacy

T-R PHOTO BY ANDREW ABADIE - The North Tama volleyball team, including seniors Grace Thorsen (9), Takoa Kopriva and Katelyn Kucera (8), waves to fans following their Class 1A state semifinal loss to top-ranked Sidney on Thursday night at the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids. The fifth-ranked Redhawks got the program’s first state tournament win in Wednesday’s quarterfinals before falling in straight sets to the Cowgirls.

CEDAR RAPIDS — North Tama volleyball’s most successful season came to an end on Thursday night in the U.S. Cellular Center with a four-set loss to top-seeded Sidney.

But what will be remembered is the legacy the 2019 team has created.

Katie Kopriva, North Tama’s all-time kills leader, reiterated her message of the team’s season as a statement for the program.

“I’m very proud of what we accomplished of making more history at North Tama getting that first win at state,” Kopriva said. “That’s a great feeling too and something I’ll never forget.

“To have all the players stepping up, not just the seniors, having those freshmen come in and those sophomores come in and not even playing nervous and not even blink an eye and just play hard with us, that was great. I think the younger generations will see this as motivation to get back here to state and do even more damage.”

T-R PHOTO BY ANDREW ABADIE - North Tama seniors Carlie Gorder, left, and Isabel Sierra need a moment to compose themselves for a team photograph following the Redhawks’ Class 1A state semifinal loss to Sidney on Thursday night at the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids.

Kopriva’s statement reigns true despite the 25-23, 16-25, 25-16, 25-17 loss to Sidney (35-8). In a span of four years the Redhawks’ all-time assists leader Isabel Sierra, all-time digs leader Takoa Kopriva and all-time kills leader Katie Kopriva came from the team’s senior class.

As for North Tama head coach Channing Halstead, her players’ statement only brought out her emotions.

“That makes me want to cry,” a teary-eyed Halstead said. “It’s insane that those kids don’t even think about themselves. That shows their character. The fact that your all-state 6-foot lefty just put the program before herself I think is pretty cool. Those girls are leaving a legacy that was part of the goal. Up in that crowd, there are little girls that want to be Katie. That is really cool that Katie put herself before in that situation. I hope that the younger girls coming up and my junior high and my high school [girls] that they take that to heart, that she said that. That shows her true character.”

In the match itself, the main difference in the night was Sidney’s faster tempo and a strong defensive performance that saw 69 digs and four blocks.

“They [played] a different style than what we were used to,” Halstead said. “They dug us more than what we were used to and they ran stuff really fast and that’s two things that we aren’t used to. We tried to make some adjustments but ultimately it didn’t work. We stayed aggressive all the way until the end and that’s all I could ask for.”

T-R PHOTO BY ANDREW ABADIE - North Tama’s Katie Kopriva (10) and Alexis Hansen (13) try to block the attack attempt of Sidney’s Paige Smith (28) while the Cowgirls’ libero Lily Johnson provides support during Thursday’s Class 1A state semifinal volleyball match in Cedar Rapids.

In the first set, the fifth-seeded Redhawks (27-7) led early, 7-3, but found themselves trailing as much as 23-15. North Tama spurred a late 7-1 run that was too little too late.

“I think right away both teams came out with a lot of energy and a lot of aggressiveness,” Katie said. “They got on big runs that really hurt us at the end of that first set. In the second set, we started to fight back and get that energy back up.”

Tied 13-all in the second set, the Redhawks jumped ahead with a 9-2 run that secured the set.

Sidney took control of the momentum in the third set. It was tied 13-13 but the first of many big runs by the Cowgirls proved to be the backbreaker for North Tama. Sidney took control of the set with an 8-1 run.

“There were really in system and really getting the middles going and that’s what was the difference,” Kopriva said. “We were kind of out of system a lot, not having our passes on and theirs was pretty much on the spot. Once they got on those runs that just built their confidence even more.”

T-R PHOTO BY ANDREW ABADIE - North Tama’s Katie Kopriva (10) celebrates a point with senior libero Takoa Kopriva, right, and fellow senior outside hitter Grace Thorsen, far left, during Thursday’s Class 1A state semifinal volleyball match at the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids.

In the final set, both teams were again tied at 10-10 but the Cowgirls broke away with an 8-3 run which secured the match.

“We had our highs and lows this season,” Halstead said. “It was really fun at the end of the season to see them turn up their mental game so that we could do what we were supposed to do. When we had to do it, we did do it. It was really fun because we had our highs and lows.

“At the end of the season, we decided to turn it on in practice mentally and physically so that was fun to see. It’s really hard to say that because they obviously wanted more. It’s hard to tell them that when they want more. To be in the top-four in the state, that is second-best to being in the finals.”

Iowa Girls State Volleyball Tournament

At U.S. Cellular Center, Cedar Rapids

T-R PHOTO BY ANDREW ABADIE

CLASS 5A

Quarterfinals

Tuesday, Nov. 12

Cedar Falls def. Waukee, 25-22, 25-10, 21-25, 24-26, 15-12

Ankeny def. Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln, 25-20, 25-15, 25-18

T-R PHOTO BY ANDREW ABADIE

Pleasant Valley def. Iowa City Liberty, 25-17, 25-12, 19-25, 25-20

West Des Moines Valley def. Dowling Catholic, 25-12, 25-16, 23-25, 25-19

Semifinals

Thursday, Nov. 14

Cedar Falls def. Ankeny, 21-25, 25-18, 25-16, 25-15

West Des Moines Valley def. Pleasant Valley, 25-23, 25-13, 25-16

Championship

Friday, Nov. 15

No. 1 Cedar Falls (43-1) vs. No. 3 West Des Moines Valley (42-4), 10 a.m.

CLASS 4A

Quarterfinals

Tuesday, Nov. 12

Sergeant Bluff-Luton def. Glenwood, 27-25, 25-17, 23-25, 25-18

West Delaware def. Waverly-Shell Rock, 25-16, 22-25, 25-17, 25-20

Western Dubuque def. Cedar Rapids Xavier, 25-23, 21-25, 18-25, 25-21, 15-10

Marion def. North Scott, 25-21, 25-23, 25-15

Semifinals

Thursday, Nov. 14

Sergeant Bluff-Luton def. West Delaware, 25-22, 25-15, 25-15

Western Dubuque def. Marion, 25-14, 19-25, 25-23, 25-22

Championship

Friday, Nov. 15

No. 1 Sergeant Bluff-Luton (36-3) vs. No. 3 Western Dubuque (24-13), 12:15 p.m.

CLASS 3A

Quarterfinals

Wednesday, Nov. 13

Union def. Davenport Assumption, 15-25, 20-25, 26-24, 25-21, 15-9

Mount Vernon def. West Liberty, 25-13, 23-25, 21-25, 29-27, 15-11

Kuemper Catholic def. Unity Christian, 25-18, 25-23, 22-25, 30-28

Red Oak def. Nevada, 26-24, 25-15, 25-19

Semifinals

Thursday, Nov. 14

Mount Vernon def. Union Community, 25-21, 22-25, 18-25, 25-10, 15-13

Kuemper Catholic def. Red Oak, 25-19, 25-13, 23-25, 23-25, 15-10

Championship

Friday, Nov. 15

No. 5 Mount Vernon (35-10) vs. No. 3 Kuemper Catholic (37-4), 2:30 p.m.

CLASS 2A

Quarterfinals

Wednesday, Nov. 13

Western Christian def. Hudson, 25-19, 25-20, 25-17

Osage def. Grundy Center, 25-17, 25-14, 25-16

Dyersville Beckman def. Van Buren County, 25-18, 25-11, 25-14

Clarion-Goldfield-Dows def. Wilton, 25-23, 25-20, 25-17

Semifinals

Thursday, Nov. 14

Western Christian def. Osage, 25-20, 25-23, 25-21

Dyersville Beckman def. Clarion-Goldfield-Dows, 25-15, 25-18, 25-18

Championship

Friday, Nov. 15

No. 1 Western Christian (40-5) vs. No. 2 Dyersville Beckman (42-8), 4:45 p.m.

CLASS 1A

Quarterfinals

Wednesday, Nov. 13

Sidney def. Springville, 25-15, 25-17, 25-11

North Tama def. Le Mars Gehlen Catholic, 25-20, 25-22, 26-24

Holy Trinity Catholic def. Council Bluffs St. Albert, 25-16, 25-23, 19-25, 25-15

Wapsie Valley def. Janesville, 25-23, 25-19, 16-25, 25-14

Semifinals

Thursday, Nov. 14

Sidney def. North Tama, 25-23, 16-25, 25-16, 25-17

Wapsie Valley def. Holy Trinity Catholic, 25-23, 30-28, 25-19

Championship

Friday, Nov. 15

No. 1 Sidney (37-8) vs. No. 6 Wapsie Valley (25-15), 7 p.m.