West Delaware will make its 12th appearance in the IGHSAU State Volleyball Tournament after a dominant, 25-12, 25-16, 25-10, win over Charles City at Seedorff Gymnasium, in Manchester, Nov. 4.
With the win, the Hawks improved to 39-5 on the season, earning the fifth-seed in next week’s state tournament, drawing a matchup with fourth-seed Waverly-Shell Rock (46-6) in a quarterfinal match at the US Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids, Tuesday, Nov. 12, at 6 p.m.
“We played real composed,” said West Delaware coach Brett Mather. “We started out just talking about remembering the process. Don’t get involved in the outcome, just focus on the process we talk about every day. We did a great job of that the entire match.”
Charles City, an upset winner over Center Point-Urbana in regional semifinal play, entered the match at 19-25, looking for its eighth state tournament berth, but the Comets were overwhelmed by West Delaware’s aggressive serving and up-tempo offense.
“Our serving was certainly a weapon for us,” Mather said. “Tonight we were definitely able to take advantage of some serve-receive situations.”
If there was ever such a thing as a walk in the park in a regional final, this was it. Charles City’s seven unforced errors early, along with kills from Carlee Smith and Allison Collier had the Hawks on top 11-4 in the opening set.
Freshman Alivia Schulte’s two consecutive kills made it 16-7, and a kill from Kinley Kolbet followed by two Ava Hauser smackdowns had the Hawks up ten at 18-8. Heather Heims’ ace ended set one at 25-12.
Set two was the only competitive game of the night, with the teams tied 12 times, the last at 13-13. Schulte’s kill gave the Hawks a two-point lead at 15-13, and when Collier set Kleitsch on an overpass for a kill, it was 16-13 and the momentum had turned.
“We work on getting Macey involved,” said Collier. “We’re always looking for creative ways to do it.”
The Comets had difficulty receiving the serve, and when Kleitsch had a crafty kill to keep the Charles City defense honest, it was 19-16.
“We knew they were going to be good coming in and we wanted to focus on our game,” said Kleitsch. “We knew if we could control things on our side it’s better for us.”
Kolbet was a force the rest of the set, notching a kill to make it 21-16 and scoring on a pair of blocks — the second with Schulte — to end the set at 25-16.
“It’s a whole team effort with the back row getting their passes to Macey,” said Kolbet. “We’re able to get that quick kill and catch the other team off-guard.”
The third set was never in doubt. A Kleitsch ace had the Hawks on top 6-0. A kill from Hauser made it 10-5, and consecutive kills from Smith had the Hawks cruising at 12-6.
Kleitsch showed why Mather refers to her as the state’s best setter, following up a series of unforced Comet errors with three kills to put West Delaware up 20-8. Kolbet and Collier took care of business the rest of the way, with Collier’s ace and three Kolbet kills sealing the deal at 25-10.
“The passers were giving me opportunities,” said Kleitsch. “If I can draw attention to myself it opens things up for the other hitters.”
“We were able to take advantage of our tempo,” said Collier. “Just getting able to get a good pass upfront and get a good swing was big.”
West Delaware’s leaders were: kills — Kleitsch nine, Kolbet eight, Hauser five, Smith four, Collier and Schulte three; assists — Kleitsch 22, Collier four, Felton and Koloc three; digs — Koloc 18, Kleitsch 16, Sydney Morris 12, Heather Heims 10, Felton six, Hauser five, Schulte four, Smith three, Collier two; blocks — Kolbet and Schulte three, Collier, Hauser and Kleitsch one; serves — Kleitsch 18-of-18, Heims 14-of-14, Collier 12-of-12, Morris 7-of-7, Felton 12-of-13, Koloc 8-of-9; ace serves — Kleitsch three, Collier, Heims and Morris one.