Redhawks rock Regents in regional semifinals
North Tama volleyball has a clear mission in mind.
One season after making the semifinals of the Class 1A state volleyball tournament, with most of the roster returning, North Tama is one game away from completing part one.
The No. 2 Redhawks (38-4) swept Waterloo Christian (20-17) 25-12, 25-17, 25-22 to advance to the Class 1A Region 4 Finals against Southeast Warren.
The visiting Regents gave a good fight early in the first set, and with the match tied at 7-7 the Redhawks took a step up. Going on a run from 7-7 to 24-11, the Redhawks put the set to bed with good serving and a key theme from Monday night’s matchup — dominance from middle hitters Breanna Sebetka and Briar Blake.
Head coach Channing Halstead said the Redhawks knew coming into the match they would have a chance to control things in the middle of the court.
“We knew what they were gonna do and we needed to make sure that we controlled it,” Halstead said. “Our middles, we knew we’d have a solo and Breanna and Briar did what they were supposed to do.
“We knew we could beat them through the middle.”
Waterloo Christian once again put up a strong fight in the second set, as double hit calls against star setter Jadyn Rausch threw the Redhawks for a loop.
Rausch said it was a difficult balancing act — she had never been called for so many double hits in one game to this point in her career.
“It was really, really extremely frustrating,” Rausch said. “It’s not something you usually like to get called on you.
“We’re here for each other, and so having that in my mind that I’m doing this for them, not for me helped me get through that rough patch.”
When the Redhawks pulled out the 25-17 win in set two, it felt like a final blow to the Regents. An 11-4 run to start the third set put all of the momentum in North Tama’s hands. However, Waterloo Christian had one more run on its hands.
From 11-4, the score went to 13-10. From 13-10, it became 15-13. Waterloo Christian was putting the Redhawks under pressure, and while the Regents benefited from a couple of lucky bounces, North Tama started to get in its own way.
After the first and only timeout taken by the Redhawks, Waterloo Christian actually took a 20-18 lead — getting within five points of forcing the match to a fourth set.
Facing real adversity for the first time all night, the Redhawks fought back to close out the match — taking one step closer to Coralville.
Sebetka and Blake — the North Tama sophomore who is back to making a big impact after returning from a car accident that left her with injuries to her knee and thigh — tied for the team lead with eight kills each. They were closely followed by Rausch’s seven, which was in addition to her team-leading 21 assists.
Halstead was proud of Blake for her contributions.
“It just makes my heart super happy that she was able to go out and contribute like she did,” Halstead said.
Shae Ewoldt got five kills and Lainey Willenbring added four. Kylie Calderwood had three aces while Izzy Hallett and Lainey Willenbring recorded two apiece.
Now the Redhawks have to head to Newton on Wednesday at 7 p.m., with only Southeast Warren (31-14) standing between themselves and a second-straight state tournament berth.
Halstead said North Tama has a playoff motto and she is going to remind the girls of it before they take the court on Wednesday.
“Our quote of the last two weeks is, ‘No one can beat us if we just do us,'” Halstead said. “If we just do us, we’re pretty hard to beat. In that third set when it got close, it wasn’t us. We got a little comfortable and got sloppy — that wasn’t us.”