WELLS — The No. 9 Martin Luther/Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Truman Jaguars volleyball team was pushed to the limit Monday night but dug deep to find a way against the No. 8 United South Central Rebels win 18-25, 25-23, 13-25, 25-17, 15-11 in a Section 2A, South Sub-Section play-in match at Wells.
The Jaguars (7-22) advance to the subgroup quarterfinals against the No. 1-seeded Cleveland Clippers (19-9) in Cleveland at 7 p.m. Thursday.
“We have to maintain the intensity with which we played tonight,” said Jaguars head coach TJ Williams. “We have to keep our mistakes small. We’re playing with confidence right now.”
The Jaguars and Rebels played back on September 1, with the Rebels leading in four games. They also tied in a game at the USC tournament on September 24, which the Rebels won by scoring more total points.
“We’ve come a long way since then” said Williams. “We’re a better team at the moment.”
The Jaguars clinched a 3-2 win over Fairmont in the regular season while the Rebels ended the regular season with eight straight losses.
“It was a tough loss but you have to give (the Jaguars) credit for making the games when they needed it to win a powerful match.” This was announced by rebel head coach Joe Küchenmeister. “I thought our kids fought and put themselves in a position to win, we just couldn’t get the job done when it counted.”
Thanks to Eleny Korn’s nine straight serve points, the Rebels won the opening game with relative ease.
Collectively catching their breath, the Jaguars came out with greater intensity, taking an 11-6 lead in Game 2 before winning 25-23.
The Rebels fought back to crush the Jaguars in Game 3 and wrestle away momentum, but the Jaguars clung to the stretch to regain momentum and earn the 25-17 Game 4 win.
Behind kills from Londyn Bowers and Brianna Petrowiak and serving and defending from Johnnie Zaharia, the Jaguars played clutch volleyball in Games 4 and 5.
“I just took a deep breath out there” said Johnnie Zaharia. “Service is something you can control, and I just went along with it.”
Zaharia hit three big serve points in the deciding game 5 to put the Jaguars in position to win. She finished the match with 13 of 13 serves.
Her twin sister, Gracie Zaharia, was just as successful on her serve, releasing 20 of 23 off the line. Ella Nagorske contributed with 16 of 17 serves while Petrowiak finished 13 of 16 serves.
Offensively for the Jaguars, Bowers and Brianna Petrowiak each had 11 kills.
Hayley Stensland had 17 templates while Nagorske added 10.
Defensively for the Jaguars, Johnnie Zaharia had a team high of 20 digs.
At the Rebels, Kendal Harpstad and Kiera Schultz each had 10 kills, while Korn finished at the highest level with 33 set assists.
Defensively, Harpestad had the team’s best 17 digs.
Iowa Prep Volleyball
Western Christian 3, North Union 0 — The Class 2A No. 2 Wolfpack lived up to their lofty bill by beating the Warriors 25-6, 25-12, 25-9 in Monday night’s Region 1 volleyball semifinals in Hull .
Western Christian (39-5) won the regional championship game against Boyden-Hull (16-14) Wednesday night at 7 p.m. at Sioux Center High School. Boyden-Hull eliminated Central Lyon 3-1.
North Union finished their season with an 18-10 record.
Libero Kylie DeJager, backrow specialist Taylor Statema and setter Hannah Broek combined at the service line to give the Wolfpack a 16-3 lead in Game 1. DeJager and Statema each produced five-point runs, while Broek had four points.
Abby VerBurg, a 6-foot senior, made four of her 14 match kills in the opener, while 5-9 senior teammate Stella Winterfeld made eight of her 15 match kills to develop frontline firepower for Western Christian.
After Olivia Merrill and Olivia Von Bank each had a kill to put the Warriors 3-2 in Game 2, VerBurg hammered a set assist from Broek for a crucial sideout kill.
DeJager reeled off five unanswered serves to build an 8-2 lead before Von Bank and Emily Meyer later responded with spike winners to grow to 12-6.
Winterfeld’s conversion of a set from Broek spun to the end line and the older hitter made a break on the scoreboard with a four-point run for a 17-6 edge.
As in Game 1, Winterfeld blasted home the final kill in Game 2 to lead the Wolf Pack to a 2-0 lead in the best-of-3 match.
Statema and Haley Wielenga equaled 10 service points in Game 3 to level Western Christian 14-3.
Keana Wynja and Shayna Van Dyken combined for seven kills during the run to extend the Wolfpack’s double-digit lead.
Scarlett Winterfeld then finished the sweep by drilling two kills before rotating to the end line and serving the final two points of a 25-9 Game 3 win.
DeJager served 18 of 18 with 14 points for the Wolfpack while teammate Statema hit 12 points behind a 16-for-16 serve.