When the Class 3A, Region 8 regional volleyball bracket was released, Albia head coach Tessa Simpson knew how tough and familiar the postseason would be.
“We said it was like the South Central Conference mini-tournament,” Simpson said.
Albia, Chariton, Davis County and Centerville all knew that only one would be able to represent the SCC in regional finals next week in Ottumwa. All four knew that to get there, they would have to battle each other this week in three tough matches.
Monday night certainly showcased just how tough, and familiar, the SCC rivals are with each other. When things were finally settled on the opening night of Class 3A’s postseason, the Lady Dees were one of the teams left standing.
Albia scored a 25-21, 25-23, 25-18 sweep that was anything but easy. The Lady Dees had to rally in each of the first two games, including a match-turning comeback from eight points down in game two.
“We see Chariton all the time. We know how tough they are in conference play and we expected the same kind of effort here,” Simpson said. “If you look at those final scores, those games were all very competitive.”
Close competition was the common theme of the night among area volleyball teams competing on the opening night of the Class 3A postseason. Just down the road on Highway 5, the other half of the ‘SCC mini-tourney’ saw Davis County (19-14) rally from a set down to edge Centerville (10-19) in five, winning the decisive game 15-12.
Albia can certainly relate to the Redettes having lost to the Mustangs in a fifth game, 15-13, in Bloomfield. The Lady Dees will get a rematch of that regular-season classic in the 3A, Region 8 semifinals Thursday night at the Lakeview Gym in Centerville.
“We lost by two points. It was a close match all the way through with them,” Dustin said. “Hopefully, we can get those extra couple of points to go our way.”
Dustin definitely did her part to keep her volleyball season going on Monday. The junior had over half of the Lady Dees’ 31 kills with a match-high 17, over twice as many as any other player on the floor.
“We just watch the players arms swing as the match went along and got the timing down,” Dustin said of Albia’s attack at the net. “It took a little longer then we would have liked, but it came through when we needed it.”
Albia was certainly in need of some sort of spark midway through the second game after rallying from an early deficit to win game one by four. Chariton appeared poised to even the match, opening a 17-8 lead as the Chargers seemed to take control at the net.
“We came out and played as well as we could play,” Chariton head coach Jana Cain said. “We were aggressive on our attacks. We blocked really well and we got to several balls we haven’t always gotten to this season.”
But after playing as well as they could through most of game two, Chariton errors helped turn the tide for the second game and the match. Albia got within 17-16 before kills by Dustin and Kylie Peterson put the Lady Dees on top for good in a 25-23 game-two win.
“We got into a passing rut once again,” Cain said. “If you can’t make the pass, you can’t set it up to put the ball down.”
Dustin talked about her team’s ability to rally back and take control of the match. After winning game two, Albia opened a 20-6 lead in game three and cruised on to the sweep.
“It’s just all about working as a team,” Dustin said. “It’s exciting to play with a team like this. This season has been really good. We play all the time together. It’s a good team to be on.”
Junior Emily Grismore led Chariton with a pair of aces, 14 assists and 10 digs for the Chargers, who lose just three seniors off this season’s 9-17 squad.
“I think we’ve got a lot to build on,” Cain said. “We gained a lot of confidence with how we played in this match.”
Albia (15-12), meanwhile, continues a winning season on Thursday looking to edge the tradition-rich Mustangs in what could be another classic encounter in Class 3A, Region 8.
“This was a great message for our girls to send to each other closing out their final home match like this,” Simpson said. “It was a fun match last time we saw Davis County. We’ll be excited to face them again.”
Also on Thursday night in Class 4A, Region 6, Fairfield will be back on their home floor to face a conference rival in Mount Pleasant. The Trojans (24-7) were able to survive their postseason opener, winning a five-game thriller of their own with an 18-25 25-16, 25-14, 24-26, 15-9 victory over Knoxville.
CLASS 3A, REGION 8 QUARTERFINALS
Aces — Miranda Davis 2, Emma Fuhs 2, Emily Grismore 2, Leah Dow. Team — 7.
Kills — Allyson Shower 8, Fuhs 7, Davis 5, Taylor Tuley 5, Alexis Curran 2, Emily Sueferer 2, Cassie Carpenter. Team — 30.
Setting — Grismore 14, Kourtney Nichols 8, Shower 2, Dow. Team — 25.
Blocks — Fuhs 7, Shower 3, Curran 3, Tuley 2, Carpenter, Davis. Team — 17.
Digs — Grismore 10, Davis 7, Dow 5, Tuley 5, Curran 4, Fuhs 4, Shower 2, Nichols, Seuferer. Team — 39.
Aces — Brooke Bettis 3, Kylie Peterson 3, Hannah DeBruin 2, Sydney Weldon 2, Hannah Dustin. Team — 11.
Kills — Dustin 17, Bettis 5, Peterson 4, Katie Dyson 3, DeBruin, Anna Riley. Team — 31.
Setting — DeBruin 15, Sydney Weldon 10, Dyson, Marissa Hugen. Team — 27.
Blocks — Dyson 3, Peterson 2, Riley 2, Lexie Van Polen. Team — 8.
Digs — Bettis 8, Dustin 6, Zoee Hutt 6, DeBruin 4, Riley 3, Cassie Crall 2, DeBruin, Dyson. Team — 30.