WASHINGTON– They made it.
The Solon Lady Spartans made it past the regional final and into the state volleyball tournament for the first time.
The Lady Spartans surged past Fairfield in three games last Wednesday (Nov. 2) at Washington to capture the Class 3A Region 7 final, 25-23, 25-19, 25-19.
Solon’s girls now have an opportunity to avenge the football team, knocked out of the 3A playoffs by Union of LaPorte City last Monday.
The No. 2 Lady Spartans will face No. 9 Union in opening round quarterfinal action Wednesday, Nov. 9, at 7:30 p.m. on court two at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena.
If successful against Union, Solon would advance to a 1:30 p.m. semifinal Friday, Nov. 11, against either No. 7 Maquoketa or No. 3 Waverly-Shell Rock on court one. Solon defeated Maquoketa 3-2 early in the season.
The 3A championship game will be held Saturday, Nov. 12, at 1 p.m.
“The kids worked very hard for this,” noted Head Coach Kurt Trout after the regional final. “They are very deserving of it.”
After a difficult opening-round regional game against Williamsburg, the Lady Spartans cruised to the final with a win over Knoxville. Standing in the way of a state berth was Fairfield.
“Fairfield was 28-9 for a reason,” noted Trout. “They were a very well-trained and defensive team. They were getting a lot of digs other teams we faced had not. They also had one of the better serve receives we had seen, and all of this presented something very different to us.”
Solon led for most of the first game, but then watched as a five-point margin eroded away to 20-19. The Lady Spartans surged to 23-20 and were stuck on game point before notching the 25-23 final.
After that first game, even when falling behind, Solon’s players didn’t appear rattled.
“We kept preaching to our hitters, even if they are digging us, relax and just stick to our game plan,” Trout said.
In game two, Fairfield continued to whittle away at the defense with softer kills that dribbled by the Solon blocks.
“We are usually a pretty good blocking team, but they didn’t hit the ball as hard as we are used to,” Trout observed. “Our block failed to adjust to that.”
Down 9-16 in the second game, the Lady Spartans rattled off eight unanswered points to take control of the game for good.
Solon also trailed in the third game before tying it at 15-15, and then ran off five straight points to wrest control.
Kelsey Cave led the Lady Spartans in kills with 17, followed by Jordan Runge with 12, Reagan Johnson with 10 and Kelsey Hinrichs with nine. Cave also led in blocks with three; the Lady Spartans had only five total blocks for the match. Hinrichs led in assists with 26, while Emma Rickels had 16. Allison Kral was 19-19 from the service line while Rylee Smith was 15-26 and Hinrichs was 14-16; each had an ace. Smith had six of the team’s 14 digs.