Sidney volleyball celebrates point

Sidney celebrates a point late in the win over East Mills, Tuesday, Nov. 5 to qualify for the state tournament. Pictured, from left: Kelsey Hobbie, Paige Smith, Olivia Larsen and Maddy Duncan.

For the fifth consecutive season the Sidney Cowgirls will play at the state volleyball tournament.

Sidney’s first-round match at the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids will be at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 13 on court one.

“It’s exciting because it’s a different group of kids,” Sidney coach Amy McClintock said on advancing back to state, “and we’re back down to Class 1A, which has helped us. The last week has been hectic, but there has been a lot of support and those are the exciting moments.”

McClintock said a lot of time has been spent preparing for the first round opponent and the teams they may see in a semifinal match the following evening if they earn a first round win.

The first opponent is a familiar one for Cowgirl fans. Springville played the Cowgirls in the opening round of the state tournament in 2015. Sidney beat Springville four years ago and then won one more match before falling in the state final.

This year’s Springville bunch is 20-16 on the season, but pulled a pair of upsets to advance to the final eight, including beating ninth-ranked Lisbon in a regional final.

“They are very young,” Sidney coach Amy McClintock said about the Orioles. “They have some height and are a pretty scrappy group. They are divided between freshmen and sophomores that play, so they’ll be good for years to come.”

Springville won three consecutive girls basketball state titles from 2016 to 2018, and a lot of those athletes also played in the state volleyball tournament in that same time frame. None of those athletes play on this team, but these Orioles have seen what a game or match looks like at a state level.

This will be the fourth state tournament for Cowgirl seniors Olivia Larsen and Kelsey Hobbie while classmates Presley Brumbaugh and Maddy Duncan are set to play a state tournament match for the third consecutive season. Junior Paige Smith and sophomore Harley Spurlock saw a little time at the state tournament last season while junior Lily Johnson will play a state match for the first time. McClintock said the state experience is huge, but for the girls that don’t have as much, or any, it’s something they try not to focus on.

“We just treat it like a normal day,” said McClintock. “When we get to Cedar Rapids (Tuesday) we’ll go watch a game and then practice at another facility. We’ll watch a game Wednesday and be ready to go Wednesday night.”

The Cowgirls enter state play with a 35-6 overall record and have been the top-ranked team in the state by the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union nearly the entire season. Being ranked on top leads to a natural question of making a state title a goal for this team, but McClintock said her team isn’t focused on a potential title game Friday.

“Every kid dreams of playing in a championship game, but it’s something we don’t talk about,” said McClintock. “Right now it’s just like when regionals start, the records are wiped clean. When you go to state, it’s supposedly the top eight teams in the state and you just have to go in, play your game and be ready to do what you need to on your side of the court.”

“I know the community is excited, the teachers are excited, the staff is excited, the kids are excited,” added McClintock. “We just have to go in and play one game at a time, if you look too far ahead that’s when you have a chance to get beat.”

McClintock said her team will be ready to go when it’s their turn on the court.

“We have watched a lot of film,” said McClintock. “I think it’s how we handle ourselves when we get there. If we play like we have been I’m confident in our abilities.”

The Sidney/Springville winner will advance to a state semifinal at 6 p.m. Thursday. The Class 1A championship match is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 15.

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