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Redhawks fight amid Janesville sweep

September 17, 2018
CJ Eilers - Editor ( , Traer Star-Clipper

It was a battle of top five 1A volleyball programs as fifth-ranked North Tama hosted top-ranked Janesville on Thursday, Sept. 6, the Redhawks falling at home in three close sets.

"Janesville's defense is amazing," coach Channing Halstead said. "They always stay in control even when they're out of system. They dig balls in hard places and are smart when out of system. They force you to make the errors."

That very same Janesville defense travelled with the Wildcats as they made it more difficult than usual for the Redhawk offense to manufacture points, going up 8-2 early in the first set. North Tama found itself without outside hitter Abby DeBoef due to concussion protocol, pushing Grace Thorsen into a new position and shortening the bench.

Article Photos

Carlie Gorder winds up an attack against Janesville on Thursday, Sept. 6.

However, even the best of teams are prone to mistakes and the occasionally unsuccessful serve as the Redhawks climbed their way back up to a 18-18 tie. From there, it was a back-and-forth afar between the two Iowa Star Conference rivals before being tied once again at 24-24. A packed gym full of fans on both sides willed both teams on as Janesville took a narrow win 26-24 by scoring the last two points of the set.

"We started off slow in our first set and took us while to come back," Halstead said. "Katie came through for us and got a few swings to get things back for us.I knew if we finished that set closer we would have more confidence going into the second set."

A better start came for the Redhawks as they pulled away 13-7 and lead by as much as 19-12. However rattled the visitors were, Janesville responded with a 15-6 rally the rest of the way to break the hearts of the Redhawk faithful.

"They threw a lot at once when we were up in that set," Halstead said. "If we had got that set, things might have gone very differently. They chipped away at the end and took wind out of our sails."

In need of a set to continue the match beyond three, the Redhawks struck out to an early 7-5 lead before surrendering it moments later and unable to wrestle it back for the tight Janesville defense and controlled attack. In the third and final set, the Redhawks fell 19-25.

"I feel we gave up a little too soon in that third set and everyone saw that," Halstead said. "We forced Janesville to do a lot of stuff we haven't seen on film and they threw some junk at us. I'll take that as compliment and we make sure to terminate that next time."

Katie Kopriva stepped up with 15 kills, 11 digs and went 7 of 9 from the serving line for the Redhawks, followed by Karly Jans with eight kills, four digs and 6 of 7 serving. Though moved out of position, Grace Thorsen made her presence known with three kills, seven digs and 11 of 13 serving. Isabel Sierra took over setting duties, putting up 26 assists, 14 digs and went 17 of 18 serving. Takoa Kopriva had 24 digs in the loss along with two assists and went 12 of 13 serving.

"We worked and worked all week on serving to throw out some short balls and we had some success with it early, but we weren't as confident in them as I would have liked," Halstead said. "It took us awhile to get going with them. Nerves were an issue. Grace had to play out of position with Abby out. She's a good server and will get back on track next time. When you work hard for points, you can't give up those easy points."

Despite the loss, however, Halstead feels confident in the remainder of the 2018 season after seeing how the team played today despite unexpected circumstances and against a team North Tama players once felt they couldn't compete against.

"I'm leaving feeling very positive about the evening," Halstead said. "Our first goal was to take a set, which we almost did in the second. I feel that was the best this team has played so far and I honestly feel if we play like that every night, there's not many people that can beat us."

The Redhawks are currently 2-1 in conference play, after defeating Colo-Nesco on Tuesday and to Collins-Maxwell on Thursday before returning home next Tuesday to host Baxter. DeBoef returned to the court during the Colo-Nesco game.



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