ORANGE CITY, Iowa | Unity Christian’s volleyball team really hadn’t given their hometown fans much to cheer about prior to the start of the regional tournament.
Coach Patty Timmerman’s fifth-ranked Knights were 7-3 on their home court in the regular season, including a 2-3 showing at their home tournament in late September where two of the defeats came against state-ranked Class 4A Sergeant Bluff-Luton. Even the night the Knights claimed the War Eagle Conference championship, the two victories to cap a 11-0 conference mark were on the road.
So on Monday night, Unity Christian gave their fans something to cheer about. During a 25-14, 25-19, 25-19 Class 2A Region 2 sweep over No. 15 Alta-Aurelia, outside hitter Corrina Timmermans and middle hitter pounded some of their hardest kills of the season, posting 21 and 18 kills, respectively, for a squad that will take a 22-10 record into Thursday night’s semifinal match, which the Knights will also host.
“We were in system a lot, so the sets were pretty good,” said Timmermans. “(Alta/Aurelia) didn’t have a double block all the time. So, we could just swing away.”
“It was more about the placement of the ball,” said Bronner. “We did a good job of getting around the block and getting it in. We just did what we could to help the team.”
Setters Erin Wieringa (23 assists) and Brooke Zevenbergen (13 assists) took charge of the Unity Christian’s offense with precise sets. Defensively, Zevenbergen and Anna DeHaan each recorded 11 digs. Bronner and Wieringa each had three block assists.
Coach Timmermans, who guided the Knights to the semifinals of last year’s Class 2A state tournament, welcomed the aggressiveness, not only in hitting, but serving, where Zevenbergen had a match-high four ace serves.
The fifth-year head coach feels the aggressiveness in both hitting and serving needs to continue down the Region 2 trail. She felt her team exploited Alta-Aurelia weaknesses with short serves.
“The key to hitting the ball hard was being in system,” she said. “We passed well. We were attacking very intensely tonight. Our hitters were going after it tonight. I have to give credit to my setters. They did a great job putting the ball where our hitters could execute.
“We have to be aggressive on the attack and the serve. We exploited some of their weaknesses. We felt going in, they might struggle with the short serve and have trouble getting it to their big hitters off our short serves. I had a lot of players really going for those short serves. We hit them very well tonight and gave them trouble. Our serves kept them out of system more.”
Morningside College volleyball recruit Lauren Rohwer paced Alta-Aurelia (23-4) with nine kills and three blocks. Laney Stanton, who according to 29-year veteran Warriors Coach Jeannie Henningsen is also showing interest from area colleges, added seven kills, two blocks and an ace serve for a team that rallied from 5-0 deficits in the final two sets to pull within three points in the later stages of those two sets.
Erin Lockin (6 kills) lifted the Twin Lakes Conference regular-season and tournament champions within 22-19 late in Game 2 before Bronner’s kill. Two straight ace serves from the Knights’ Haley Hofmeyer closed the set.
Stanton’s ace serve late in Game 3 lifted the Warriors within 20-17. Bronner responded with a kill as Unity Christian regained momentum to close the match.
“They caught us on our heels a bit and their service game was awesome tonight,” said Henningsen. “Our serve reception, we were out of system about 40 percent of the night. You can’t do that against a great team like Unity Christian. We made some runs. Our girls never gave up. We played hard volleyball. It’s been a great season, but give all the credit to Unity Christian.”
Setter Annika Patton had 19 assists for an Alta-Aurelia squad that entered the match with 15 straight wins. Mary Barnes had 17 digs.