SIOUX CITY | Fifth-ranked Bishop Heelan had no trouble staying focused against an overmatched Carroll squad in a Class 4A regional volleyball semifinal Tuesday night.
The Crusaders zipped to 25-14, 25-13, 25-10 victories at the Heelan Gym, easily advancing to a regional final at home Monday against Le Mars. The winner of that match earns a berth in the state tournament.
Heelan used a balanced attack at the net to move within a win of a return trip to state, where it reached the semifinal round last season.
“I was confident as a coach coming in because we’ve had some really good practices,” Heelan Coach Mary Miller said. “We’re getting a little bit better. I think we distributed the ball really well and got all our hitters involved tonight, which is good to see.”
Sam McCabe had a team-high 10 kills, but was far from a one-person show. Nicole Jacobson added eight kills, Alex Hope five, Katelyn Stanley four and Katelyn Lawler three.
“We try and keep it even throughout our offense,” said Jacobson, a 6-foot junior who also rifled two ace serves. “We try to get every player involved so that everybody contributes.
“It’s going to be a fun game (against Le Mars) but it’s going to take everybody, coaches, players and fans. We’re really looking forward to it.”
Le Mars (18-17) won three straight over Storm Lake in another semifinal Tuesday night. Heelan won both of its matches with the Bulldogs during the regular season and will likely be favored in front of a partisan crowd in Monday’s final.
Miller, though, said as a team they try to stay focused by setting goals.
“At the end of game two we set some goals for what we wanted to do better, some of them mental goals and a couple physical that we could actually track,” Miller said. “We only wanted to miss one serve in that last set and we wanted three ace serves. You have to find ways to make them focused because it is easy. Sometimes teams are hard to play against because they’re not structured.”
Emma LaFleur finished with 17 set assists and Jordyn Knapp 10 for the Crusaders, now 32-10 on the season. McCabe also contributed two ace serves, 12 digs and two blocks. Stanley had a team-high three blocks.
Taylor Wilshire led Heelan with 13 digs and added two ace serves, while Allison Bermel had 11 digs.
Now it’s on to a third matchup against Le Mars, which the Crusaders beat in both the Hull Western Christian and Heelan tournaments.
“If we stay in system we should be all right,” Miller said. “But they’ve been practicing and they’re getting better, too. The nice thing is we’ve got some nice balance in our attack and our setters have been in every day an extra half-hour and their set selection and placement has gotten better.”