The No. 5 Osage volleyball team has no trouble getting wins in pressure-packed environments. With each of their past four wins coming in three-set sweeps, the Green Devils seem to be peaking at the right time.
The team experienced its biggest win of the season on Tuesday night as the team swept Emmetsburg in the Class 2A, Region 2 final at Garner-Hayfield-Ventura, punching the Green Devils' ticket to next week's state tournament.
"We're pretty excited," head coach Bryan Tabbert said. "It's a great experience. We had a fast-paced offense on our part. Defensively, the girls went after everything."
Early on, it looked like the match might be close. Midway through the first set, the Green Devils led by just one point, at 10-9.
But thanks to the lofting sets of junior Ellie Bobinet and the booming kills of junior Danielle Johnson, the Green Devils pulled away, going on a 15-5 run to win the set 25-14. In the second set, Osage dominated from the outset, building a 17-2 lead, eventually taking the frame 25-9.
In the third and final set, Osage built a 10-2 lead, and eventually took it by a score of 25-10. Once the ball went off the arm of an E-Hawks defender for the winning point, the Green Devils bench swarmed its teammates on the court, and the student section let out a triumphant roar.
Johnson had 22 kills and 14 digs on the night, while Bobinet finished with an impressive 46 assists in the victory.
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"We're so excited," Bobinet said. "We're excited to get back and do our thing, and get what we deserved last year."
In 2018, Osage made it to the state tournament under previous head coach Andie Olson, but lost in the state semifinals to Kuemper Catholic. This season, under a new head coach and with the No. 5 ranking in Class 2A, the Green Devils have a shot to win the whole thing.
"We have a big target on our back," Bobinet said. "We want to get back there and do what we did last year, but better. We need to be scrappy on defense, and get the right tempo down."
A big difference for both teams was that the game took place at a neutral site. Both teams fan sections showed up in droves though, with the rowdy Osage student section called the "Devils Den" convening in the G-H-V gym, 50 miles from their usual spot on Sawyer Drive. Once the Green Devils started to pull away in the match, it felt like a home game.
"We have to bring our home to away games, the same energy and everything," Bobinet said. "We always have to keep it high energy, everywhere we go."
The team will have a week to rest and get ready for its opening round game, which will on be Nov. 14 against Grundy Center. After they get done with the celebrating, it will be right back to work for the Green Devils as they pursue a state title.
"It'll be a lot of watching video, and a lot of scouting opponents," Tabbert said. "We'll just be preparing for the individual teams."
The state tournament will be at the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids. Match time for the Green Devils is 4 p.m.