CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa | Game Four domination gave Sioux Center’s volleyball team momentum it didn’t lose during Thursday afternoon’s grueling 16-25, 21-25, 25-21, 25-10, 15-8 Class 3A state tournament semifinal victory over Osage at the U.S. Cellular Center.
Top-ranked Sioux Center began Game 4 with a 6-0 lead fueled by two ace serves from Jordyn Van Maanen while midway through the set, Makennah Traver turned in two consecutive aces which translated into a commanding 13-3 advantage.
Sharp serve reception in the back row contributed to the runaway victory as they got the volleyball to setter Van Maanen who dished passes to an array of hitters that closed the set and put Coach Julie Oldenkamp’s squad into a Game 5 situation for the first time this season.
“That was so good going into the fifth set because we had the momentum and they didn’t,” said Van Maanen, who spread the wealth in her 48-assist effort, as double-digit kills went to Alexis Toering (17), Makennah Traver (16), Alyssa Mulder (14) and Camryn Cleveringa (10).
“Winning by that much, we were like, ‘Let’s go.’ We were going to win that fifth set and we were going to win it strong. We came together. We served well. We passed well. We hit well. We did everything so good.”
Sioux Center will take a 34-5 record into Friday afternoon’s 2:30 3A state title match against No. 3 Waterloo Columbus (35-8), which advanced with a five-game win over No. 2 Carroll Kuemper. The Warriors are the first Siouxland Conference team to reach the 3A finals since MOC-Floyd Valley, paced by Alexis Conaway, now a middle blocker at Iowa State, won back-to-back titles in 2012 and 2013.
Oldenkamp felt the Game 4 domination was the product of leading from start to finish in a closer third set. Consecutive Toering kills late in Game 3 stretched a narrow 18-17 lead and kept Sioux Center’s season alive after losing the match’s first two games.
“We talked in the third set and I told the girls to just relax and have fun,” said Oldenkamp. “We play our best when we play loose. We knew we needed to gain momentum. We’ve talked about that all year. The girls even said it themselves. Once we gained momentum and dug in and got after it, it was like we got back to knowing that’s the way we know how to play. We were doing things uncharacteristic of us in the first two sets. After we loosened up, it was a totally different game.”
Kelsey Havel had 16 kills for Osage (26-10) while Brenna Jacobs and Sydney Midland each added 14 for a squad that never led in Game 4. After serving and hitting strong to lead from start and finish in Game 1, Coach Andie Olson’s squad suddenly struggled to get into system.
Hitting errors which Sioux Center made in the first two games suddenly became Osage’s misfortunate in the final two sets.
“Obviously, looking at the stats, we weren’t very efficient in sets four and five,” said Olson. “We had been so efficient all year so this wasn’t the time for us not to be efficient. I also think (Sioux Center) did a lot of things that forced us out of our comfort zone and pushed us to do things we don’t normally do.”
Errors continued for Osage in Game 5. The combination of a Havel attack error and a Cleveringa kill gave Sioux Center a 7-4 lead and from there, the Siouxland Conference champions were in business, winning the first-ever semifinal match in Oldenkamp’s 11 seasons.
“Those five-game matches are very long,” said Toering. “They can get very tiring. But they’re also a lot of fun, especially in that fifth set because we played four sets before that so we have to try and give everything we’ve got in that fifth set whether you’re tired or not.”
VanMaanen had 12 digs while Traver and Cleveringa each added 10. Alyssa Mulder had a team-high three blocks.