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The Lone Tree volleyball team held a seven-point lead early in the first and third sets of a first-round Regional with Iowa Mennonite. IMS had a six-point lead early in the second. In the end, the result of all three was the same as the Lady Lions won each set by two points 26-24, 25-23, 25-23 to advance to the Regional quarterfinals.
“Since the last time we met, both teams have improved,” said Lone Tree Co-Coach Lora Sieverding. “I was impressed with what IMS was doing and the way they were moving. They did a much better job of covering and getting scrappy things.
“On the flip side, I thought we did a good job of adjusting too. When we played them earlier in the season we had a lot of out balls on our kills, which we adjusted. We talked a lot about kill efficiency.
I thought tonight was a great way to start a Regional run, it wasn’t easy for either of us. It was fun, and it was a great way for our seniors to finish on their home court.”
After taking the first two sets, Lone Tree led 9-2 following a block by Elena Sieverding. IMS battled back with six in a row. Then Lone Tree scored five in row, but again IMS had the answer taking six consecutive points, tying the game 15-15 after a long rally.
“They came to play hard,” said IMS Coach Shannon Miller. “We’ve worked on mental toughness and it shows in our ability to come back from these deficits. It would be nice if we didn’t have to, but its something we’ve worked on and they can be proud of that.”
Neither team led by more than two the rest of the way. With the Lady Lions leading 24-23 the ball went back and forth over the net, until finally the senior Sieverding slammed it off of an IMS defender for the final point.
“It was great,” said Sieverding of the moment. "This is a great team, and I couldn’t ask for a better way to finish on our home court.”
The night started with an ace from Lone Tree server Liz Dodson. Eight points in a row gave Lone Tree a 10-3 lead, but with Suzanna Yoder serving, IMS scored five in a row to pull within two at 13-11. Lone Tree’s lead stayed between one and three until IMS won three consecutive points to tie the game at 23-23. Dodson’s kill broke a 24-24 tie and Lone Tree took the first set 26-24.
That momentum did not carry over into the second set, as IMS took a 6-0 lead. Lone Tree came back within a point at 8-7, but IMS wouldn’t give up the lead. Mia Graber spiked the ball over the net as IMS took four out of five points and built an 18-13 lead. Iowa Mennonite led 21-18 when Lone Tree scored six in a row to force a game-point, eventually winning 25-23.
“It was probably our best night of adjusting on the fly,” said Lone Tree Co-Coach Sonda Prybil. “They read some things, they were talking to each other in the huddle, timeouts, and they really picked out a lot of things that made us a better team tonight.
“We tend to hit a lot of balls out of bounds, and we did some of that tonight, but then we tried some other things too and that was all from the girls. They did a great job communicating with each other and adjusting on the fly.”
With the win, Lone Tree improves to 13-13 for the season. Sieverding had 16 kills and just four errors. Sieverding also had 25 digs. Maddie Forbes had 27 assists and was 26-27 serving with two aces. Riley Warson had six kills, while Dodson had four kills and 25 digs. Zoie Simonsen had four kills as well.
“I think it shows that they can play with anybody and in any situation,” Prybil said. “We’ve played behind before. Sometimes we maybe don’t believe we can get over the hill, but tonight we had to do that over and over again. I think it shows that they don’t have any quit in them. Until the scoreboard reads 25, they’re in it.”
Iowa Mennonite finishes the season with a record of 10-17.
“They are hard workers, and they play well together,” Coach Miller said. “I’m really proud ot be their coach and they have a lot going for them next year.”
Alijah Beatty played in her final game for IMS. The senior finished the year with over 300 assists.
“The girls have been great, and they’ve grown every time we enter the gym,” she said.
“They’re always encouraging even outside of volleyball. I’m going to miss them a lot, they’re really good friends.”
Lone Tree travel to Belle Plaine on Monday, October 24 for the Regional quarterfinal. Belle Plaine (17-10) defeated HLV in four sets 25-23, 23-25, 25-19, 25-23 behind 32 kills from sophomore Kenzie Mantz.
Article will be updated with IMS individual statistics when available.