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PREP VOLLEYBALL

A look at the 16 area teams as volleyball regionals near

Did you blink?

If you did, it feels like you missed everything. Volleyball season has gone by that fast and all of a sudden, regional tournaments open on Monday night in Class 1A, 2A and 3A with 4A and 5A kicking off on Tuesday.

All roads lead to the Alliant Energy PowerHouse in Cedar Rapids. The four-day state tournament starts on the first day of November.

Here is an inside look at the 16 area schools in North Iowa and their respective paths to reaching the pinnacle of Iowa high school volleyball.

Class 4A, Region 7

The last area regional has a first round matchup between Charles City (10-21) and Mason City (9-18). It will be hosted by the Mohawks and played at North Iowa Area Community College on Tuesday.

The winner will travel to Decorah to visit the No. 12 Vikings in a regional semifinal. Top-ranked Western Dubuque is on the top half of the bracket.

Mason City is hopeful to avoid a repeat of last season's regional opener in which a majority of its starting lineup was out due to COVID-19 and it resulted in a 3-0 sweep.

The Mohawks are 2-0 this season against Charles City. Both matches were over weekend tournaments. It is the first time Mason City has beaten the Comets twice in the same season in over a decade.

Setter Breanna Lowe, who has been battling an ankle injury this season, played in the regular season finale against Ankeny Centennial. If she experiences another setback, Ella Turk will take over in Mason City's 5-1 offense.

Jada Williams has nearly double the amount of kills (143) has the next highest attacker in the Mohawks rotation. 

Charles City has had a rollercoaster type of year. It has gone on little spurts of wins then free falls into a pair of losing streaks that have been over five matches.

Kaylee Anderson and Rachel Chambers, two seniors, pace the front row with each having north of 110 kills and 31 combined blocks. Four Comets rotation pieces have triple digit dig numbers.

Class 3A, Region 2

Three area teams make up the bottom half of this region with the overwhelming favorite of Sheldon, ranked third in 3A, in the top half. 

Forest City (16-10) and Clear Lake (9-18) meet in a regional quarterfinal in the Indians home gym while Garner-Hayfield-Ventura (19-7) welcomes Algona (10-21) in the other quarterfinal.

Winners will meet in a regional semifinal on Wednesday.

The Indians outlasted the Lions in three sets on Sept. 30, but the final set scores were close. The numbers were close, except in the serving department. Forest City had nine aces and had a percentage of 94.7 from the line compared to three aces for Clear Lake and a serving percentage of 87.3.

Jaden Jerome and Jalyn Hovenga, the two sophomore setters for the Indians, have routinely fed senior outside hitter Shae Dillavou as she has over 200 kills on the year and the next closest, Hovenga, is at 116.

Clear Lake snapped an eight-match skid with a sweep over Hampton-Dumont-CAL. Since a 7-6 start, the Lions are 2-12 and in those setbacks, they have won a total of four sets.

Four players have over 20 blocks for Clear Lake. Its top offensive option is sophomore Xada Johnson, the only player that is at triple digit kill numbers and just one of three that have a hitting efficiency of .100 or higher.

GHV is one win away from its first 20-win season since a string of three straight from 2012-2014. It has been paced by seniors Chloe Frank and Rylee Frayne, who lead the Cardinals in kills and digs.

Their serving percentage of 86.8 is the lowest amongst the eight teams in the regional.

Class 3A, Region 3

Hampton-Dumont-CAL (3-24) is the only area school in this bracket. It will face North Central Conference rival Clarion-Goldfield-Dows on the road in a quarterfinal.

It has been a struggle for the Bulldogs this season. Entering Monday's postseason opener, they have not one a set in nine days and they have not multiple sets since their last win on Oct. 2 against Wayne.

Of HDC's three wins, two of them went a full three sets during a tournament plus the season opener against West Fork that went a full five sets.

Freshman Aubryee Showalter and senior Kortney Dunt lead the way offensively with each having over 90 kills. Those two plus libero Addyson Showalter all have more than 120 digs.

The Bulldogs fell to the Cowgirls in three sets in the regular season meeting and got to 20 points once in the match.

Class 2A, Region 6

Four area schools make up this bracket and all of them are in the bottom half and could potentially play each other. It would happen if West Fork goes on the road and beats South Winneshiek in a first round contest to set up a match with No. 10 Osage in the second round.

The other second round match is between Lake Mills and Central Springs, one team that has been consistently at the top and a team on the rise of late.

It could set up a regional semifinal between the Top of Iowa East and West champions Osage and Lake Mills for the right to face potentially No. 6 Sumner-Fredericksburg in a regional final.

West Fork had just four assists and a hitting efficiency of minus-.082 in the regular season setback to South Winneshiek at the Nashua-Plainfield tournament. The Warhawks have a distinct advantage in total blocks (101-58) and serving percentage (90.6-84.9) over the Warriors.

Osage has the star power with Addy Grimm nearing 650 assists and three hitters in Meredith Street, Kaebre Sullivan and Claudia Aschenbrenner each over 150 kills and hitting north of .200. 

The Green Devils have five players with over 100 digs and everyone in their serving rotation has above 20 aces. Eight of their nine losses have come against teams ranked inside the top-10 regardless of classification.

Lake Mills is one of two teams in Class 2A that is not ranked despite having under five losses this season. It posses a lineup that starts one sophomore in libero Taylor Vanek. 

The Bulldogs top-four hitters all have north of 100 kills and two of them are at over 55 blocks. They have a kill efficiency of .246, second in the region behind Sumner-Fredericksburg.

After winning 15 of 18 matches, Central Springs stumbled down the stretch to close the regular season with a 2-4 record. Its last win was a five-set thriller over Forest City in which the Panthers overcame a 2-0 deficit.

The Panthers have a deep bench with six players that have under 20 starts, but have appeared in at least 10 matches. That could be the key to overcome a steamy gym at Lake Mills.

It is a rematch from the Central Springs tournament where Lake Mills earned a 2-0 win.

Class 1A, Region 4

All three of the area schools in this region – Newman Catholic, Rockford and West Hancock – are on the bottom half of the bracket where the top team is No. 9 Janesville and all of them are going on the road for the first round.

The Knights face North Butler in a regular season rematch; the Warriors travel to take on No. 10 Dunkerton; the Eagles square off against AGWSR.

If Newman Catholic and Rockford pull off road upsets, it would meet in a regional quarterfinal on Wednesday. West Hancock would face either the Wildcats or Clarksville if it were to beat the Cougars.

That trifecta of schools have been through some ups and downs this season.

The Knights have been swept in 17 of their 19 losses this season. Still, they were able to grab a 3-0 win over Eagle Grove in the regular season finale to head into the matchup with the Bearcats with some momentum.

Newman Catholic is near the bottom amongst everyone in the region in nearly every offensive category. It has three hitters, led by senior Madi Elwood, that have notched at least 50 kills, but the hitting efficiency is .001.

Rockford started off the year 4-6 then have spiraled out of control with consecutive losses in double figures. It has not won a set in over a month and get the daunting task of facing the Raiders in the opening round.

The Warriors have been balanced this year with six players recording over 25 kills, but that hasn't translated to the blocks as they have amassed just 64 total blocks, third lowest in the region.

West Hancock has put together three wins this season. It enters the match with AGWSR on a 13-match skid and it has won five total sets in 17 contests over the last month.

The Eagles have the second highest serving percentage at 90.2 percent from the nine teams that enter the postseason with a below .500 record.

Class 1A, Region 5

Two schools in Mitchell County are in this region. St. Ansgar is guaranteed at least two home matches if it beats Northwood-Kensett in the opening round then the Saints would face either Turkey Valley or Kee High in a regional quarterfinal.

Riceville travels to face Nashua-Plainfield in the first round and if it pulls a road upset, it would face the winner of Tripoli and West Central.

There is a potential regional semifinal between St. Ansgar and Nashua-Plainfield, a rematch of a nail-biting four-set win by the Saints on Sept. 30. Despite the head-to-head, the Huskies are the 

The Saints are one of the hottest teams in 1A, winners of 10 straight and eight of them have been sweeps. In the last 27 sets, they have allowed their opponent to reach 20 points seven times.

St. Ansgar is averaging 24.8 kills per set, third most in the region behind Edgewood-Colesburg and 1A No. 3 Springville, the top team in the region.

The Vikings have had seven matches this season, five of them in tournaments, that went the distance either in three or five sets. They are 2-5 in those matches. In their current six-match losing streak, half of them went a full three sets in tournaments.

Senior Emma Davidson has distributed 256 assists this season for Northwood-Kensett, more than 200 more than she set last fall.

Riceville had two different stretches, once at the start of the year and once three weeks ago, where it won two out of three matches then went on a significant losing streak. The first one sat at 13 and the current one is close to double digits.

The Wildcats have not beaten Nashua-Plainfield since 2010. They are led by seniors Josie Kobliska's team high 106 kills, libero Saige Sullivan's back row presence with 189 digs and seven servers that have recorded double digit ace numbers.

Zach Martin is a sports reporter for the Globe Gazette. Reach him via email at zachary.martin@globegazette.com and follow him on Twitter @zach_martin95.

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