By SCOTT JACKSON
Courier sports writer
---- — ALBIA — One win away. The Albia volleyball team is one win from the Class 3A State Volleyball Tournament.
Senior Hannah Dustin a match-best 12 kills and 16 digs as the Lady Dees shook off a nervous start to the Class 3A, Region 4 semifinals to sweep Interstate 35 (15-12) 25-18, 25-12 and 25-15 on Halloween Night at the Albia High School Gymnasium.
“We started a little rocky, but we came together as a team and played volleyball like we know how to,” Dustin said. “We’ve got six seniors that have all played varsity volleyball at some point. We’ve all played together since sixth grade. We know how to play well as a team.”
The Lady Dees came out strong on the attack, dictating the flow of the match early. Whether it was excitement of playing for a regional championship berth or nervousness, several early hitting errors allowed the visiting Roadrunners to open an early 14-11 lead.
“We weren’t finding the court. We were sending it long and we sent it into the net,” Albia head coach Tessa Simpson said. “We were nervous starting out. The girls were excited, but also a little scared and timid right at the start.”
An early timeout seemed to right the ship as Albia finished game one on a 14-4 run. That momentum carried over to game two as the Lady Dees led wire-to-wire, pulling away down the stretch for a 25-12 win and a 2-0 lead in the match.
I-35 tried to fight back, taking a 7-5 lead in hopes of extending the season to at least one more game. Five straight net points and two straight ace serves by Sydney Weldon later, Albia had the lead back and cruised home to a berth in the Region 4 title match.
The 16-9 Lady Dees will play at Creston on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. To get to state, Albia will have to go through sixth-ranked Red Oak (26-6), who won in four games over Clarinda on Thursday.
“We don’t know a lot about (Red Oak),” Simpson said. “The main thing for us is to control the things we can control. We just have to come out focused during practice and come out to play our best on Tuesday. That’s all we can control.”
In other Class 3A regional semifinal action on Thursday, Davis County saw a 29-14 season come to an end with a loss at Mediapolis (35-8) in a 25-22, 25-18, 25-23 sweep. In Class 4A, the Fairfield Trojans fell to No. 15 Clear-Creek Amana (23-9), 25-20, 25-18 and 25-21, in the regional semifinals, ending the season for head coach Nancy Diers’ squad at 20-15.
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