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Redhawks suffer first loss at the hands of Janesville

September 20, 2019
CJ Eilers - Editor ( , Traer Star-Clipper

North Tama volleyball's undefeated streak came to an end as the second-ranked Redhawks were swept by the third-ranked Janesville Wildcats on Thursday, Sept. 5 in Janesville 25-14, 25-21, 25-21 for the first real blemish of the season.

"Janesville is very scrappy and you have to limit errors against them," coach Channing Halstead said. "We haven't had that many errors all season. Their defense forced us into errors and we didn't handle them like we should have."

17 kill errors was only a part of the Redhawks' trouble on the evening, also committing uncharacteristic errors on their serving and giving up easy points to the Wildcats. The Redhawks quickly found themselves down one set after a 25-12 loss.

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Alexis Hansen finished with six kills and three block in the Redhawks' loss to Janesville on Thursday, Sept. 12. The junior middle received high praise from Coach Halstead for play.

"That first set was home court advantage because they are used to their ceilings, heat and an energetic home crowd," Halstead said. "Our serving is our forte and we did not serve well. They stayed in system. We didn't do anything to take them out of their game."

North Tama would play up in the second set, yet were seemingly one step behind the Wildcats throughout the rest of the evening. Lacking effort from a senior-laden team, Halstead subbed in freshman, especially Jade Rasuch and Lainey Willenbring, and saw a competitive game form towards the final minutes. The Redhawks would fall lose 25-21, yet it appeared North Tama was ready to compete.

"I wanted to find a spark off the bench," Halstead said. "Jade did a very nice job setting and made some very athletic plays. We needed more attacking and Shae had been hitting very well in JV earlier on, so I thought it best to put her out there."

Errors would continue to plague the Redhawks in the third set, keeping the visitors behind two or more points the majority of the final set. Once as close as 18-16, errors and serving cost the Redhawks the set 25-21, the match and their unbeaten record. As a team, the Redhawks hit .071 had nine serving errors on the evening.

"Preparedness wasn't the problem," Halstead said. "We ultimately didn't perform. I don't think we got uptight, pass the ball early. When we did pass later in the game, we didn't hit well. You're not going to win games hitting .071 as a team."

Carlie Gorder led the Redhawks with seven kills, followed by Abby DeBoef and Alexis Hansen with six kills each and Katie Kopriva with four kills. Takoa Kopriva had 24 digs in the match, followed by Katie Kopriva with six digs. Rausch finished with 13 assists and Isabel Sierra nine assists. Though disappointed with the results of the day, Halstead was pleased with Hansen's six kills and three blocks on the evening.

"Alexis Hansen had three blocks and hit really well for us and deserves to be acknowledged," Halstead said. "She 100 percent stepped up to the occasion and should be someone teams going forward need to worry."

The Redhawks are 12-1 on the season as of publication, a fact Halstead told the team cannot be ignored as they head into conference season and have several tournaments still left to play before postseason.

"It's one game and it can't define our season," Halstead said. "We have a lot more games this year. We can't let this ruin what we have coming up next. There's a chance we get to see them in the conference tournament later. We just lost to the number three team and can't hang our heads on it."

North Tama opened Iowa Star South conference play with a sweep over Meskwaki on Tuesday before defeating Gladbrook-Reinbeck 3-1 for the second time this season at home. The Redhawks will compete in a varsity tournament at Waterloo West on Saturday, Sept. 21 and host GMG on Tuesday, Sept. 24.



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