Redhawks resist rebels, settle for 2nd place | News, Sports, Jobs

TR PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE – Members of the North Tama volleyball team celebrate one of the last points in the Redhawks’ three-set victory over Gladbrook-Reinbeck in the semi-finals of the North Tama Tournament on Saturday in Traer. The top-ranked Class 1A Redhawks defeated the third-ranked Rebels 25-19, 22-25, 15-8 before falling to 2A No. 12 Grundy Center in the championship game.

TRAER — A nail-biter on his debut as the top-ranked Class 1A volleyball team didn’t carry for North Tama.

Instead, the Redhawks have played their best yet, even though they had to settle for second place.

North Tama knocked out HLV, Independence and 2A No. 12 Grundy Center in Pool before battling 1A No. 3 Gladbrook-Reinbeck in the Championship semi-finals.

Grundy Center came back to sweep the Redhawks in the tournament title game, but North Tama felt no shame after their first loss of the season. In fact, it instilled an odd amount of belief for a traditional low-class powerhouse.

“If you had told me after those busy first two weeks that we were 11-1, I don’t know if I would have believed you,” said North Tama head coach Channing Halstead. “I know we have it in us, but leaving here with a loss?

TR PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE – North Tama center hitter Breanna Sebetka (3) goes for the tip on Gladbrook-Reinbeck defenders Megan Cooley (17) and Ava Wyatt (6) during Saturday’s semi-final of the North Tama tournament in Traer. Setter Jadyn Rausch (2) watches as the Redhawks won the game in three sets.

“Grundy Center turned it on when they needed it – they were better at the end of the day. I told the girls I didn’t expect them to go 50-0, but I’m starting to believe in them. I mean, yes, but I’m starting to believe in them more.

North Tama picked up a three-set victory over No.5 Ankeny Christian Academy to win the Meskwaki tournament on the opening weekend, but Grundy Center proved too strong the second time around. The Redhawks (11-1) cruised through HLV (21-4, 21-8), rallied at Independence (17-21, 21-18, 15-5) and swept the Spartans (21-14, 21- 18) to win their pool and set up a showdown with neighbor and rival Gladbrook-Reinbeck in the semi-finals.

After losing a first set home and away, the Rebels (5-3) took a 21-12 lead in Game 2. It was 23-14 after back-to-back eliminations by Ava Wyatt, but North Tama has scored five straight – and eight of the next nine – to climb within 24-22. Megan Cooley’s kill ended the set and forced a decisive third, but the Redhawks’ comeback created more momentum than Gladbrook-Reinbeck could handle.

North Tama took a modest early lead before a 3-0 push proved too difficult for the Rebels. Briar Blake scored a kill, Izzy Hallett had an ace of service and Shae Ewoldt hammered a kill to make it 12-6 in the deciding 15 first. Another Ewoldt kill, a Lainey Willenbring block and a clean Rebels violation completed Redhawk’s victory.

“I thought we were ready to play,” GR head coach Paula Kelley said. “I sometimes thought we were playing a little more on our heels than I would have liked, but we came back strong and really won in game two. We let them come back a bit at the end, which I think gave them the momentum. I really wish we could have closed the door a little better.

It capped a 2-2 day and a 2-3 week for the Rebels, who won their tournament opener in Montezuma to find a four-set loss in Thursday’s NICL West Division opener at No. 2A. 10 South Hardin.

GR finished second in their pool to 3A No. 9 Union Community with a 21-19, 21-17 loss to the Knights in the opener of the day. Rebels outlasted 1A No. 4 Dunkerton (21-7, 11-21, 15-12) and held off previously ranked AGWSR (21-11, 17-21, 15-12) before losing ahead of the enemy North Tama in the semi-finals.

Wyatt led the Rebels with 37 kills for the day, adding 17 digs and 24 on 26 serving with two aces. Megan Cooley racked up 26 kills and team highs of five blocks and 23 digs while serving 37 for 39 with eight aces. Lily Dripps had 13 kills and four blocks, Kennedy Brant had 10 kills and two blocks, and setter Emma McClintock had 78 assists and 21 digs.

Madisyn Eggers stepped in to serve 38 for 38 with two aces, and Abby Sienknecht was 35 for 35 with two aces. The two had 16 digs and Libero Breehan Dubberke added 15 digs and five aces.

Grundy Center (12-2) dispatched Union (10-1) in straight sets, 25-6, 25-13, to earn another shot at North Tama in the tournament final, and the Spartans absorbed it. Carlie Willis racked up 19 kills in the lone title fight, leading Grundy Center to a 27-25, 25-18 win.

The last thing the Redhawks were going to do, however, was not think about a loss to one of the regular superpowers in the state.

“We did a lot better than we all expected,” said North Tama senior setter Jadyn Rausch. “We kind of surprised each other and I think now we know we won the No.1 spot. There’s a lot of competition here, it was a big tournament, so after a not so good game on Thursday, it was sometimes a rollercoaster today.

Rausch had 82 assists in four games, adding 24 kills and 22 digs. Ewoldt led the way with 31 kills, Willenbring added 25 and middle hitters Breanna Sebetka and Blake had 15 and 13 kills respectively.

The Redhawks compiled 30 service aces but made up for them with 19 errors. Kylie Calderwood had seven aces while Hallett had six, Rausch had five and Addison Hochstetler four. Hochstetler, one of two rookies on the team, led the defense with 46 digs. Hallett had 19 and Willenbring added 17 more. Blake and Ewoldt led the way with four blocks each, while Sebetka, Rausch and Kruiz Ewoldt totaled three each.

“You want to get that experience early and hopefully build on it,” Halstead said. “We just want to see as much as possible and get as much experience as possible. We have experience, but we have to work on these competitive matches early and hopefully that will pay dividends in the end.

The only top-ranked Redhawks game this week is a rematch with No. 3 Gladbrook-Reinbeck on Thursday at Reinbeck.

“I’m sure they’ll be bloodthirsty,” added Halstead. “We exposed a lot of their weaknesses today, so we’ll see if they fix them on Thursday or not.

“Being No. 1 is scary because the only way to go is down. It’s just a different point of view and we’re learning and I think today, with the competition, we did a pretty good job of proving that we deserve to be in that top 3.”

Northern Tama Tournament

At Traer

red pool

North Tama beats. VLH, 21-4, 21-8

Grundy Center beats. Independence, 21-9, 21-12

North Tama beats. Independence, 17-21, 21-18, 15-5

Grundy Center beats. VLH, 21-15, 21-5

Independence def. VLH, 21-10, 21-11

North Tama beats. Grundy Center, 21-14, 21-18

white pool

Union def. Gladbrook-Reinbeck, 21-19, 21-17

AGWSR def. Dunkerton, 19-21, 21-19, 15-12

Union def. AGWSR, 21-16, 23-21

Gladbrook-Reinbeck beat. Dunkerton, 21-7, 11-21, 15-12

Gladbrook-Reinbeck beat. AGWSR, 21-11, 17-21, 15-12

Union def. Dunkerton, 16-21, 21-17, 16-14

Consolation Bracket


AGWSR def. Independence, 25-13, 25-16

Dunkerton beats. HLV, no score

Consolation Championship

AGWSR def. Dunkerton, 25-19, 25-14

Championship bracket


North Tama beats. Gladbrook-Reinbeck, 25-19, 22-25, 15-8

Grundy Center beats. Union, 25-6, 25-13

Championship final

Grundy Center beats. North Tama, 27-25, 25-18

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