North Tama makes it past GMG

Aubrey Gates and Laura Rempe elevate to defend the attack from South Tama during their 3-0 opening round sweep on Oct. 19. Darvin Graham/North Tama Telegraph

TRAER — North Tama and GMG’s matchup Monday was unrecognizable to the first time these two teams played earlier in the season.

In the first round of regionals, the shorthanded Redhawks (15-13) struggled to get past a much-improved GMG (5-14), finally winning 3-1 (25-19, 20-25, 25-20, 25-19) to advance to Wednesday’s regional quarterfinals against No. 4 Gladbrook-Reinbeck.

The Redhawks were missing four key rotation players and have been since late last week. Lainey Willenbring, Jadyn Rausch, Dylan Rohlfsen and Abby DeBoef were all out for Monday’s game and will miss the upcoming contest against G-R after entering quarantine for exposure to a person who tested positive for COVID-19, according to head coach Channing Halstead.

“These girls, they’re playing with a lot of heart and they’re playing for [the missing players],” Halstead said. “We’re still making the most of the opportunity, we still get to keep going and we’re not done. They’re responding very well.”

North Tama struggled with errors throughout the night and the 25-19 win in set one didn’t portend a positive momentum for the second set. But the second set belonged to GMG, who made improvements over the first season under head coach Brycelyn Haughey.

The Wolverines came in with a different game plan than the 3-0 sweep they suffered against the Redhawks earlier in the season, Haughey said.

“How far we have come from when we played them the first time is crazy,” Haughey said. “I’m so proud of them. I think we just built from where we started, we knew exactly where to be at the right moments. [The team] being really hyped and all-in helped us as well.”

Winning the second set 25-20 and led on offense by Emily Vaughn’s 13 kills and 12 from Adelyn Sienknecht over the course of the night, Haughey said she was proud of the team’s growth.

Other stat leaders for the Wolverines included Madi Lewis with 19 assists, Vaughn with four aces and Sienknecht with seven digs.

The third set was all North Tama for most of the set, holding onto a 24-15 lead after giving up five straight points to the Wolverines. It was difficult for the Redhawks to close out sets due to the lack of offensive firepower at their disposal, becoming heavily reliant on the ability of Alexis Hansen to get consistent kills. Hansen recorded 14 of the team’s 26.

Defensively is where the Redhawks have made their mark this season, and with the absence of the team’s best setter in Rausch and top hitter in DeBoef, it’s where they’ll have to be at their best to have a chance against the Rebels.

Mya Sierra stepped up to provide 22 assists for the Redhawks and led the team in blocks (two) and aces (four). Defensively, Aubree Monat led the team with 21 digs. Kaitlyn Calderwood contributed 14 digs and Hasen recorded 10. Freshman Isabel Hallett had nine.

Halstead said she is aware of the challenge her squad is up against Wednesday, and she said they have to go in ready to play like there’s nothing to lose.

“We’re gonna try to throw them out of system as much as possible,” Halstead said. “Obviously we don’t have a lot of offense, so the best thing we can do is keep their offense out of system. I’m pretty confident in my defense for the most part.”

The game Wednesday will start at 7 p.m. in Reinbeck.