Redhawks keep the momentum going

North Tama junior outside hitter Shae Ewoldt (6) tries to block the ball sent over by Tripoli’s Keyra Krueger, far right, during the third and final set of Thursday’s Iowa Star Conference volleyball match in Traer. Ewoldt had a team-high 17 kills to lead the 12th-ranked Redhawks to a 3-0 sweep of the visiting Panthers. Photo by Noah Rohlfing

For much of the 2021 season, Class 1A No. 12 North Tama has had a tough time with sweeping opponents.

Thursday evening, the Redhawks completed their second sweep in three days with a 25-17, 25-19, 25-11 drubbing of Iowa Star South opponents Tripoli (8-15) at home. The win moves North Tama to 19-7 on the season and 5-0 in Iowa Star South play. This follows a 3-0 sweep of Baxter on Tuesday.

Redhawks coach Channing Halstead was pleased with the team’s ability to put away opposition the team should be winning against without having to deal with a fourth set.

“We are starting to get it figured out,” Halstead said. “Starting to do the right thing at the right time. We’re getting to the point where we just want to take care of business. The second game was close because of us, and we realized that and in the third set we fixed that. If you want to get those big sweeps, that’s what you’ve got to do.”

Wearing pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the Redhawks had some early-match jitters and missed a couple of serves, keeping the first set close early. But a run kick-started by Shae Ewoldt put the Redhawks ahead 19-11 and on course for an easy win. Tripoli didn’t lay down but the first set handily went to North Tama, 25-17.

North Tama senior Mya Sierra (14) tries to hit around the block of Tripoli’s Sydney Nation (4) during Thursday’s Iowa Star Conference volleyball match in Traer. Photo by Noah Rohlfing

Set two was closer, as the Panthers capitalized on some mistakes from the Redhawks to take an early lead.

Halstead said she was frustrated with how the Redhawks made mistakes to keep the Panthers close throughout the set. Tripoli got within two at 21-19 late in the set before a 4-0 run from North Tama sealed a 25-19 win.

Ewoldt led the way in kills for North Tama with 17. The duo of Jadyn Rausch and Lainey Willenbring had six kills each.

Halstead has been pleased with where the outside hitters for the Redhawks have improved their games over the past two weeks.

“Our outsides are hitting a lot better than they were two weeks ago,” Halstead said. “Lainey was a libero last year, and Shae with the mess of a season that we had last year, then having to be a go-to this year, that’s a huge maturity step. They really are just becoming more confident.”

Photo by Noah Rohlfing

Many of these kills — North Tama had 42 as a team — were assisted by Rausch, who had 36 to lead the way for the Redhawks. Rausch’s unique style as a setter and an attacker is crucial to how North Tama’s offense works, and Halstead said Rausch has raised her game in the past two weeks as well.

The third set was a clinical showing from the Redhawks as Halstead said the team got its focus back and wanted to finish off the game. Going up 9-4 early and jumping to a 16-7 lead before a Tripoli timeout, a Rausch kill ended the game with a 25-11 win. Kaitlyn Calderwood and Willenbring led the way on the defensive end for the Redhawks, with 14 and 12 digs, respectively.

North Tama also competed at the BCLUW Invite Saturday against West Marshall.

In the playoffs, the Redhawks have been given a matchup against Meskwaki in Class 1A Region 6 on Oct. 18th.

Photo by Noah Rohlfing