TABOR, Iowa — East Mills used a sweep to defeat Essex for the second time this month and earn its first trip to state on Tuesday night.
The Wolverines (24-8) defeated Essex 25-16, 25-14, 25-19 in the Class 1-A Region 2 final at Fremont-Mills High School.
“It’s been a work in progress, we just kept getting better. The more teams we’ve defeated, the more confidence we’ve gained,” East Mills coach Connie Blank said. “This season is a culmination of years, of these girls putting in the time year round. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
After winning the first two sets, East Mills had an opportunity to sweep Essex (22-7) for the second time in a row.
But the Trojanettes didn’t go quietly.
The teams traded points on the way to a 6-6 tie to open the third set, but the Wolverines scored six straight behind three errors from Essex and a pair of Shellby Moore kills to take a 12-6 lead.
But the Trojanettes went on a run of their own, pushing the score to 13-10 with kills from Daiton Martin, Blu Ossian and Abby Lindburg.
East Mills took a 16-10 lead, followed by a 19-13 lead. Essex scored four straight, but a Moore kill ended the run.
Rachel Schafer had a kill to make it 21-18, and the Wolverines closed out the match by scoring four of the final five points behind a Trojanette error, two Schafer kills and another from Moore.
Blank wasn’t surprised by how her girls responded to the swings in momentum.
“They just have the confidence to do it and they play so well together,” Blank said. “We needed to keep swinging and keep them on their heels (in the third set). And we started tipping and being a little soft. We didn’t want them to get on more than a three-point run.”
Alex Knop led the team in kills with 13, while Moore had 12 and Gracee Meyer had six. Knop (13) and Moore (12) also led the team in digs.
With their first trip to state looming, Blank is stressing to her team that it needs to stay the course.
“Same game plan. Control things you can control,” Blank said when asked what her message was to her team heading into state. “Be relentless out there and you’ve got to play fearless. I know it’s going to be a different stage. It’s going to be pretty overwhelming but we just got to stick to the court.”
East Mills (24-8)……..25 25 25
Essex (22-7)………….16 14 19
EM (kills-aces-blocks-digs): Rachel Schafer 5-0-0-8, Shellby Moore 12-1-2-12, Gracee Meyer 6-0-1-6, Dezirae Drake 2-0-0-11, Alex Knop 13-0-1-13, Madison Williams 2-0-1-0, Kassidy Croghan 0-1-0-14, Megan Hossle 0-0-0-10.