Iowa volleyball: Central Lyon Lions crowned, advance to state over H-LP
GEORGE, Iowa — It was certain that one team would make its mark in history Wednesday night, in front of a standing room-only crowd in George.
In a Class 1A Region 1 volleyball final between two teams who never have reached the Iowa state volleyball tournament, No. 10-ranked Harris-Lake Park and fourth-ranked Central Lyon settled the debate.
The Lions swept Harris-Lake Park for their first trip to Cedar Rapids. The Wolves will have to wait for another year.
Set scores were 25-23, 25-17, 25-20.
“I thought it was a great effort by our kids. In games one and three, we played pretty close to our full potential,” H-LP coach Daryl Meyer said after the match. “I think Central Lyon just out-hit us tonight.”
H-LP gleaned a pair of pivotal kills in the first set from Megan Garms. The senior finished with nine kills for the night to go with 13 from senior middle hitter Noreen Morrow.
The Wolves (who finished the season 31-11) covered the floor well enough in the first set to tie the frame at 23-23 before the Lions, now 27-6, closed it out.
H-LP lacked the offensive firepower needed in the second set to rally and tie the match.
“We’ve talked about how you need to put service pressure on people and hitting pressure on people to keep them out of their offense,” Meyer said. “They did that to us and we didn’t quite get that accomplished (against) them. That was one of the biggest differences in the match.”
Central Lyon narrowly out-hit H-LP with 35 kills to the Wolves’ 33. Senior setter Macy Gunderson led the Wolves with 20 digs. Grace Heikens collected 18 and senior Miranda Brueggeman grabbed 13.
Lions senior Ashley Vande Stouwe chipped in a dozen kills for her team while junior Sarah Halse had 11. Vande Stouwe finished with two service aces and three blocks. Halse collected a team-best 15 digs.
“We knew we had to be focused. Everything comes back to our team chemistry. Our girls care about each other on the court and off the court,” Central Lyon coach Jamie Helmers said. “They accept their roles, they’re in that zone, and they have that cohesiveness. The sky is the limit, and I thought they did a good job against a junior-senior driven team tonight.”
The Lions are the third team qualifying for state from the Siouxland Conference this fall. Class 3A’s second-ranked Sheldon Orabs and the top-ranked MOC-Floyd Valley Dutchmen both punched their tickets earlier this week. Central Lyon opens the state tournament with a match against Tripoli (24-14).
On the other side is heartbreak, as the Wolves knew they gave their all but fell short. The team’s 31 wins goes down as a school record. The blue-and-white also secured their third Cornbelt Conference title in a decade’s time this year. It was their final one, as they will join the War Eagle Conference next fall.
“We had great leadership out of our seven seniors. They took us places we’ve never been before,” Meyer said. “I hope they can take lessons they’ve learned into other areas of their life.”