RED OAK, Iowa — Red Oak has taken its knocks this season.
But in a loaded field that featured five of the best teams from western Iowa, the Tigers proved their mettle.
The ninth-ranked team in Class 3-A took down Class 2-A No. 10 Treynor in the Red Oak Invitational championship match Saturday afternoon.
On their home floor, the Tigers’ 26-24, 25-13 win avenged a pool-play loss to the Cardinals earlier in the day and clinched the tourney title for the first time in coach Angie Montgomery’s nine-year tenure.
“I think it gives us a lot of confidence, because going in we knew how tough it was going to be,” Montgomery said. “Getting the chance to play those teams and come out on top is wonderful.”
The Cardinals were in command for the majority of the first set. They led by as many as six. Even when Red Oak started chipping away, they still seemed poised to take a 1-0 advantage. That began to change once Red Oak’s Sierra Athen started heating up.
Every time Hanna Vial and Ellie Rengstorf set her up for the kill, the senior came through.
“I got a little hungry for the ball,” Athen said. “I said, ‘Feed me, feed me.’ I was feeling hot.”
Once Treynor reached set point at 24-23, Athen rattled off three kills in a row to seal the first set.
While the Tigers continued to pick up steam from there, the Cardinals lost their momentum and never recovered.
“Red Oak played great,” Treynor coach Kim Barents said. “They had us out of system. We really lost focus, and then we got rattled.
“We’ve got to be more mentally tough.”
Athen, who was selected to the all-tournament team, finished with a team-high 12 kills and a pair of blocks.
Sophomore Chloe Johnson added seven kills, while Vial and Rengstorf combined for 22 assists. Sydney Streicher and Athen contributed 15 and 11 digs, respectively.
Treynor’s Konnor Sudmann, Sydni Huisman and Sienna Black received all-tournament nods. The trio led the team in kills on the day with 25, 23 and 20, respectively.
For Red Oak, the long-awaited tourney title comes after six losses to ranked squads this season. Half of them were sweeps at the hands of the top-ranked teams in the state (5-A No. 1 Cedar Falls, 3-A No. 1 Carroll Kuemper and 2-A No. 1 Dike-New Hartford).
Montgomery said that each one taught the team something new.
“It was lessons in those matches that helped us power through these,” she said. “I really felt like today was a big moment for us. A big turning point.”
Red Oak (7-5) …….. 26 25
Treynor (16-3) ……. 24 13
Red Oak (kills-aces-blocks): Sierra Athen 12-1-2, Hannah Vial 1-2-0, Sydney Streicher 1-0-0, Sophie Walker 2-1-1, Chloe Johnson 7-0-1, Ellie Rengstorf 3-1-0, Allie West 1-0-1.
Treynor (kills-aces-blocks): Cienna Chaussee 0-0-0, Jessica Vohs, 1-0-0, Kayla Chapman 2-1-0, Konnor Sudmann 4-0-0, Maddie Shipley 2-1-0, Quinn Mantell 0-0-0, Sienna Black 2-0, Sydni Huisman 1-0-0.
All-tournament Black Pool team — Sierra Athen, Red Oak; Konnor Sudmann, Treynor; Sydni Huisman, Treynor; Sienna Black, Treynor; Cailey Schaa, Abraham Lincoln.
All-tournament Orange Pool team — Brooklyn Hundt, Tri-Center; Lauren Bair, Clarinda; Kelsey Hobbie, Sidney; Kamryn McClintock, Sidney.