CEDAR RAPIDS – The Sidney Cowgirls saw adversity in the form of the North Tama Redhawks, Thursday, Nov. 14 in a state volleyball semifinal, but the Cowgirls battled back to earn a 3-1 win and a spot in Friday’s final.
Set scores were 25-23, 16-25, 25-16 and 25-17.
North Tama scored 12 of the final 15 points of the second set to even the match and then led 6-3 in the third set, but consecutive Maddy Duncan kills and a winner by Olivia Larsen sparked the Cowgirls to a 7-7 score. North Tama led 10-9 and then Duncan added another winner. A Presley Brumbaugh kill gave Sidney a 14-13 and sparked a 5-0 run. The Cowgirls pulled away from there to take a 2-1 lead.
Duncan had five of her 16 kills in the third set and helped the Cowgirls take the momentum back from the Redhawks.
“Maddy played lights out,” Sidney coach Amy McClintock said after the match. “She played great defense and knew what was open. Her and Presley hit the open spots and once we got some blocks and served well things started to go our way.”
North Tama jumped out to a 7-2 lead in the fourth set, but again it was Duncan with consecutive kills to spark the top-ranked Cowgirls. Hobbie, Harley Spurlock and Brumbaugh all had kills to tie the match and then another winner from Hobbie put Sidney in front for good at 11-10. Sidney pulled away from there, scoring the final three points of the match and set off a celebration.
“We just came together,” said Duncan, “and worked as a team and that’s what got us to the state title game.”
“It’s pretty exciting,” McClintock added, “when you come into the state tournament ranked number one and you haven’t really seen the other teams play in person. It means a lot for the kids because they have worked hard to be here.”
The Redhawks scored six of the first seven points of the match, but Sidney responded and nearly ran away with the opening set. The Cowgirls extended the lead to 23-15 with an ace from Brumbaugh but saw the Redhawks score the next seven. Kills from Hobbie gave Sidney its final points for a 1-0 lead.
Hobbie led the Cowgirls with 19 kills, although she wasn’t happy with how she responded to adversity initially and promised afterwards not to let it happen again.
“I hung my head low (Thursday),” said Hobbie, “and I will never do that again. It feels great (to make the final).”
McClintock said it took her team longer than she would have wanted, but they eventually responded well.
“Some of the girls were hanging their heads and quit playing like they can,” said McClintock. “We told them you’re capable but if you don’t play together and stay positive, you’re going home. I think once Kelsey got a couple kills and we kept them out of transition they stayed together and played well.”
Brumbaugh added 10 kills while Larsen distributed 47 assists.
There were four Cowgirls that finished with double digit digs, led by Paige Smith’s 16. Brumbaugh added 15, Larsen 12 and Duncan 10.
The Cowgirls improved to 37-6 and will play in a state championship match for the first time since their first state appearance in 2015.
“It’s a dream come true,” said Larsen, “all of us wanted it and this is our last game.”
The Cowgirls will play Wapsie Valley in the final. The Warriors swept Holy Trinity Catholic in the other semifinal.
“It’s going to take working together,” said Brumbaugh, “hyping each other up and being positive.”
“We’ll have to watch film and make some adjustments,” added McClintock. “I don’t know a lot about Wapsie Valley, but I know they have a couple really good hitters and are powerful. We have nothing to lose now, we might as well go for it.”
Brumbaugh, Duncan, Larsen and Hobbie will all play their final game of their incredible careers Friday, and McClintock commented on getting this group to a final.
“These kids are pretty lucky,” said McClintock. “We haven’t focused on being number one and playing on Friday, but just focused on every game. We made adjustments defensively on what they were going to do and how they served.”
Video interviews with the four seniors can be found on the Valley News Sports Facebook page.
Sidney’s state championship match with Wapsie Valley is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 15.