STC ignites own fire for second place

TAMA – It won’t win them any style points.

And it won’t directly add to their tally on the scoreboard either.

Though if the South Tama County volleyball team can continue to feed off its own energy with between-point dances and celebrations like it did Saturday, Michelle Bradley won’t be slowing her team’s step anytime soon.

After a noticeable lack of enthusiasm in a sweep over West Marshall Tuesday, South Tama had a surplus of it en route to a runner-up finish at its home invite.

“They’re just trying to create their own energy whether they look goofy or not. They don’t care,” said Bradley, whose squad posted a 3-2 mark with both losses coming against champion Sumner-Fredericksburg.

“I told them, ‘It’s not anything to be embarrassed over for excitement. Just do it. People will pick up on that energy and just go crazy with it.”

The Trojans (13-7) rallied behind that extra burst to earn a 25-22, 22-25, 15-8 upset over Hudson in the semifinals. The Pirates, who previously defeated STC in the BCLUW tournament, were ranked No. 12 in last week’s Class 2A poll.

The semifinal victory gave South Tama a rematch with Class 2A No. 3 Sumner-Fredericksburg (19-2), where the Trojans displayed a much-improved effort in a 25-14, 25-18 setback. The Cougars claimed the first meeting, 21-9, 21-13, in Pool A play.

Sumner-Fredericksburg won 10 of the first 12 points and never allowed STC within seven in the first set. The Cougars pounced again with a 4-0 lead to open the second, though the Trojans took seven of the next nine points including a Sam Holtz smash to cap an extended rally. Trisha Walz unleashed a rocket two points later to give STC a 7-5 lead. South Tama carried a 9-7 advantage before a trio of errors put them in a 16-13 hole. Paige Van Dyk’s winner pulled STC within two, but it never got any closer as the Cougars claimed the next four points and pulled away for the title.

“When we could get a nice attack going, it just seemed like they wouldn’t let anything drop,” Bradley said of the Cougars’ lanky and athletic squad. “It was two scrappy teams going at it.”

Holtz had five kills and Van Dyk added four in the final. Belle Tyynismaa came up with seven digs and Trisha Walz had five and converted 5-of-6 serves with an ace. Madison Baack tallied 12 assists.

Sumner-Fredericksburg cruised past Grinnell in the other semifinal, 25-11, 25-12, while North Tama and East Marshall each posted 1-2 marks on the day.

The Trojans’ three-set semifinal win over Hudson (18-6) showed the turnaround Bradley was looking for from her team.

“I didn’t see the faces that I normally see after they shank one or something,” Bradley said. “What I saw was, ‘Okay, you’re going to serve it to me again, because you’re not doing that to me a second time.”

Hudson won Pool B with a 3-0 mark including victories over North Tama (21-16, 21-6), North Fayette Valley (21-17, 21-14) and Grinnell (21-17, 21-14), before the Trojans avenged their previous defeat to the Pirates.

Van Dyk led the Trojans with 15 kills and a solo block in the match, while Holtz added 10 kills and 11 digs. Walz tallied seven kills and 17 digs and Baack dished out 27 assists. Tori Appelgate converted 13-of-16 serves with four aces. Tyynismaa (11-of-12), Van Dyk (9-of-9) and Baack (5-of-6) each added an ace.

Back-to-back kills from Van Dyk gave the Trojans a 3-0 lead to open the first set, though Hudson responded with the next four. Neither team could establish more than two points separation before consecutive Van Dyk kills and a Baack ace gave the home team a 13-10 edge. A trio of errors lengthened STC’s lead to 19-14 though Hudson tightened the game at 23-22, before a Emily Martin winner and another error helped the Trojans prevail.

The evenly matched squads battled back-and-forth in the second set with 13 ties – the last coming at 21, before Corey Miles’ smash leveled the tally at 1-1. Van Dyk helped the Trojans keep pace with five winners in an eight-point span.

South Tama avoided any drama in the final set, springing a 9-1 run to grab a 12-4 cushion on Tori Appelgate’s service winner. Hudson pulled back within five before another Pirate miscue ended the match.

“We talked and got excited and energetic after every single point instead of being dull. That gets everyone going,” said Walz. “It’s just cheering more after every point, just getting together. Even if you get a bad point, just encouraging each other and making sure we’re all on the same page.”

Bradley got a glimpse of her team’s future with several members of her JV unit playing the entire second set in a 21-10, 15-21, 15-8 win over East Marshall (3-12). Holtz had a team-high seven kills, Baack had 11 assists and Walz recorded eight digs. Appelgate (7-for-7) and Walz (6-for-7) each had two service winners.

The Trojans also topped Saydel, 21-7, 21-15.

Redhawks complete rigorous run

In the midst of homecoming week, North Tama (11-9) showed glimpses of its potential in a 1-2 outing, though coach Stan Upah was certain it wasn’t his team’s best.

“We had a lot of fundamental errors that aren’t normal. That’s either from fatigue from a long week or a lack of concentration,” said Upah, whose squad faced Class 1A No. 2 Janesville and No. 6 Tripoli earlier in the week and has four starters on the homecoming court.

“They played as hard as they probably could have today for the week that they’ve had.”

The Redhawks rebounded from their loss to Hudson (21-16, 21-6) with a 21-23, 23-21, 15-8 triumph over Grinnell. North Fayette/Valley rallied to defeat North Tama, 14-21, 21-14, 15-5 in Pool B play.

Josie Youel led the team with 23 kills, Molly Dvorak tallied 16 and Sara Howard had 13. Anna Kvidera distributed 48 assists and Shayla Kopriva came up with 30 digs. Whitney Pokorney chipped in 16 digs. Howard converted 22-of-23 service attempts with 4 aces. Kopriva had the same efficiency with one ace and Pokorney connected on 20-of-24 with an ace. Rian Weda was 12-for-13 with a pair of aces.

The Redhawks were short a few members due to a home JV tournament, though Upah didn’t want to use that as a crutch for Saturday’s performance.

“If we had played 100 percent and got beat, I’ll take that loss any day because that’s the game,” said Upah. “There’s probably something I could have done with the rotation to improve things. … I’ll take most of the blame because if I can’t get my team fired up – that’s my job and my responsibility.

Mustangs working on consistency

East Marshall split losses to the Trojans and Cougars with a 21-12, 21-17 decision over Saydel. The up-and-down pattern summed up the Mustangs who showed stretches of strong play, but are working to sustain them further.

“We’re doing good things and trying to run the offense, which we’ve added some things to including quicker attacks,” said East Marshall coach Jodi Hinegardner, who felt her team was a bit complacent in the first set against STC after a win over Saydel.

“In that first set we relaxed and we weren’t playing our game. In the second and third set we stepped up our game. Against Sumner our girls played well the first 12 points but we have to learn to play tough all the way through.”

Claire Johnson powered the Mustangs with 14 kills, five blocks, 18 digs and a 14-of-15, 1 ace effort on serve. Sam Earley had nine kills and Kelsea Anderson eight. Meriel Leavy had four blocks, Ashley Allen dished out 46 assists. Madisen Hinegardner converted 17-of-18 service attempts to go with her team-high 23 digs. Haley Long had 12 digs and served up four aces on a 14-for-16 effort. Allen had three aces, putting 20 of her 24 serves in play.

The Mustangs return to NICL West Division action against South Tama Tuesday in Le Grand. North Tama hosts GMG that same night.