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Monday night set the stage for the Pride of Iowa tournament finals seeing Mount Ayr, Southeast Warren, Nodaway Valley and Southwest Valley winning on that Monday night.
It was a straight-forward tournament with the winning teams playing for the championship and the other two battling it out for third.
Mount Ayr and Southwest Valley would meet for the second in a week to begin the night off in the high school gym, while Southeast Warren and Nodaway Valley would play in the middle school gym.
Both gyms put on a show for their respective audiences, however, Mount Ayr and Southwest Valley took it the distance, of five sets.
Just a week before, Southwest Valley took care of business, defeating the Raiderettes 3-0 overall and by scores of 25-20, 25-15 and 25-21.
Tonight was slightly different.
Mount Ayr came out of the gate swinging, catching the Timberwolves on their heels to go up 2-0 early by scores of 25-15 and 25-21.
It was in the third set that the Raiderettes began to show cracks in their armor.
Southwest Valley won 25-16, and then again in set four, 25-10.
Set five would go to the first team to 15.
Mount Ayr was down, but came back, capitalizing on Timberwolf errors, to win 15-12 and move on to the championship game.
“They are on a roll. They did not give up one bit. We lost those sets, but they never gave up, they always fought back,” said coach Kristen Graham. “I am so proud of them. I feel like the momentum is on our side right now and I feel like our hitters are really attacking and serves have been fabulous tonight.”
In the middle school gym, the Nodaway Valley Wolverines and Southeast Warren Warhawks went three rounds, with Nodaway Valley taking the first set by a narrow 25-23 score.
The Warhawks, who had won 14 straight games, didn’t give up easily and came back in sets two and three to win the contest by scores of 25-18 and 25-13.
The finals were ready and Mount Ayr would face Southeast Warren for the championship and Nodaway Valley and Southwest Valley would duke it out for third place.
The Raiderettes fell to Southeast Warren in sets one and two by scores of 25-12 and 25-14.
They were noticeably worn down after their tough battle with the Timberwolves, but they girls fought back in set three, in what almost saw the game go into four, but the Warhawks salvaged the set and won, 25-23 to take the Pride of Iowa Championship title.
“We didn’t go down without a fight,” said coach Graham. “Southeast Warren is a good, solid team. They are scrappy, they have good hitters. Our first five sets with Southwest Valley were go, go go. You could tell they were tired. We had the momentum, we had the energy, they were tired. Second place feels great. I am proud of these girls. Getting second in the conference and getting the momentum and energy and the way the girls are playing is right where we want to be heading into Regionals against Murray.”
After their win, it was discovered the Southeast Warren head coach was absent due to illness and the team Facetimed their coach who looked to be in tears and very happy for her team.
In the middle school gym, Nodaway Valley and Southwest Valley wrapped up their contest, with the Wolverines coming out on top, 3-0, after scores of 25-17, 25-23 and 25-19.
The contest closed out the regular volleyball season and the teams went into Regional play on Monday, where the Raiderettes would meet with the Murray Mustangs once more, looking for retribution after falling to the Mustangs just a couple of weeks ago, in five sets.
The Raiderettes got the job done Monday night to stay alive in the post-season after 53 kills helped lift Mount Ayr over a scrappy Mustang volleyball team.
“I thought the first set, we didn’t move our feet very well, we were slow, we just didn’t move to the ball,” said coach Graham. “During that second set we just told them that you’ve got to stay on your toes, you have got to move to the ball.”
Murray played well in the first set, defeating the Raiderettes 25-20 to lead the game 1-0, early.
Mount Ayr bounced back in the second, but allowed Murray to keep things close with Mount Ayr coming out on top, 26-24, to even things out at one each.
“Our front row hitters did an excellent job. We had 53 kills tonight as a team and that’s outstanding,” said coach Graham. “We just have to keep feeding those girls that are on and keep attacking.”
The Raiderettes continued to attack in the third set, winning 25-14 to lead the game for the first time Monday night.
Set four stayed close as well, but the Raiderettes were able to put it away, 25-21 to advance to the next game Wednesday against Lamoni, in Lamoni.
Tegan Streit led the team in kills with 17, followed by Addy Reynolds who recorded 11.
Hayden Ruggles stayed busy with 27 assists and libero Maddie Stewart recorded 22 digs.
Tabby Henle, who came into the fold in the fourth set, had four ace serves to help overcome the Mustangs.