Second-ranked Redhawks ace GMG in 3

GMG middle hitter Emilie Claussen pushes the ball into the double block provided by North Tama’s Kahlia Even (12) and Kruiz Ewoldt (9) during Thursday’s Iowa Star Conference volleyball match in Traer. The Class 1A No. 2 Redhawks defeated the Wolverines in three sets, 25-16, 25-7, 25-12. PHOTO BY JAKE RYDER

TRAER — Serving helped everything else fall into place for North Tama volleyball on Thursday night.

After an overexcited start to an Iowa Star South Division contest with GMG, North Tama delivered an avalanche of tough serves that buried the Wolverines in a straight-set North Tama victory at North Tama High School.

The Redhawks, ranked No. 2 in Class 1A, won 25-16, 25-7, 25-12 and improved to 9-9 overall. GMG fell to 5-4.

Across the three sets on Thursday, North Tama dropped in 19 ace serves. Sophomore Cayleigh Heller had nine aces to lead the Redhawks.

“Heller’s serve is wicked as all get out once it gets going,” said North Tama head coach Channing Halstead. “That was crucial to our success in the end.”


In the first set, GMG started with an 8-4 lead and was within 15-14 as the Wolverines forced North Tama to make the play.

“We were moving the ball around, swinging really hard, passing as much as we could and just playing to the ball,” GMG head coach Justina Eggers said of the early success. “They were being aggressive out there and I really liked that part of their game.”

Kruiz Ewoldt smashed a kill to put Heller on the service line, in what was a 10-2 flurry to end the first set.

That momentum carried on through to a dominant second set, with strong Redhawk serving pairing with hard swings from Kylie Calderwood and Ewoldt. Ewoldt had a match-high 19 kills and Calderwood added seven kills.

North Tama scored the last 11 points of the second set to cruise to a 2-0 advantage.

All nine of the Redhawks’ losses this season have come to teams in the state rankings.

“We were amped up, just trying to get into the flow of the game,” Halstead said. “We had to make sure we controlled our side.”

Heller dropped in five more ace serves in an 8-0 run to end the third set and the match.

“We’ve been doing good with serve receive all year but North Tama has some really hard servers,” Eggers said. “… I think the girls were off a little bit tonight, but they still played as hard as they could.”

A young North Tama squad returns several pieces from last year’s state-qualifying team, seemingly reloading after graduating a talented senior class before them.

The Redhawks aren’t going to sneak up on anybody, though.

“We’re number two in the state, … and I think we deserve it,” Halstead said. “But we have to mature a lot faster than we anticipated, and that’s fine because we need to learn and need to earn that spot.”