Resiliency is one descriptor for this year’s North Mahaska volleyball team. The team has made a habit of rallying to win sets and matches, but Wednesday it all came to an end in the quarterfinal of the Class 2A Region 3 tournament. Pleasantville took the match 25-17, 27-25 and 25-21.
The opening match was much closer than the score might appear. There were five ties in the set and NM trailed 17-15 when Pleasantville, behind Faith Nelson’s serving and the net play by Jayden Tibben and Danika Park.
Both teams were frustrated by the number of double-hit calls made by match officials. Players from both sides tried to adjust to the calls but was difficult.
“It was frustrating for the girls,” said NM coach Erica Groom. “We were told in the coaches meeting in the preseason that it was not going to be called. Some officials call it, and others don’t. We were just frustrated in how to play the ball.”
Pleasantville looked to be cruising in the second set with an 8-1 lead. Starting with a service ace by Regan Grewe North Mahaska pulled closer and tied the set at 10-10. The teams traded points and railing 22-20, Lily Hartwig served the team to a 22-22 tie and forced Pleasantville coach Joel Allman to call a timeout. A mishit by the Trojans gave NM its first lead of the night 24-23 forcing another Pleasantville timeout.
A sideout again tied the set and Grewe’s kill put NM up 25-24. Tibben’s block went off North Mahaska defenders for the set win.
North Mahaska opened the third set with a 2-1. The teams again scored three ties, but The Trojans’ firepower was too much.
This year and for the next few years North Mahaska will be one of the smallest schools in Class 2A. The Warhawks played up at a number of tourneys in preparation of the postseason.
“We’ve been preparing for this all season,” said Groom. “We added the Osky tournament to help us prepare. Many of these girls play ball in the off-season against players from Des Moines so it has not been a big adjustment.”
Groom felt the way her team bounced back at times was a testament to the strength of the team. The Warhawks had no senior players and meshed underclassmen with the strong group of juniors.
“They showed resiliency tonight and all season, Said Groom. “Tonight, there were just different things that happened with different people.”
The match saw the end of the volleyball manager career of Emily Reis. She did video for the team to help coaches and players prepare for the next match.
“We appreciate her so much,” said Groom. “She was a big part for us. I’m going to miss her next year.”
Junior Sydney Andersen recorded five kills, two blocks and a service ace. Freshman Nataliya Linder recorded four kills, three blocks and an ace while another junior, Grewe, was credited with four kills, a block and two aces.
North Mahaska ended the season with a 19-11 record. Pleasantville, 27-16 will now travel to Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont on Monday for the regional semifinal.