MARENGO — After Colfax-Mingo’s volleyball team fell behind to Keota early in the first set Tuesday night, head coach Michelle Grant made sure her squad was alive and ready to play.
“Are we here to play or not,” Grant screamed in a quiet gym.
A few points later, Grant’s pair of seniors took the message to heart and made sure the Tigerhawks advanced to at least the silver quad of the South Iowa Cedar League tourney.
Senior Ries Wilson blasted 23 kills, collected 10 digs, had three blocks and served up five aces and her classmate Megan Earles collected 31 assists, four kills, nine digs and three aces as the Tigerhawks swept the Eagles in the opener of pool play at Iowa Valley High School.
Colfax-Mingo rallied to win the opening set and then never trailed again in a 25-17, 25-16, 25-11 victory. Class 1A No. 10 Iowa Valley swept Colfax-Mingo in the final match of the night 25-8, 25-6, 25-16.
“Megan and I have gotten to a point where enough is enough,” Wilson said. “This is our senior year, and it will be over with in a hurry. I don’t want to have any regrets in my high school career. Every ball is my ball. That’s my mindset.”
The split sends the Tigerhawks to the silver quad in Sully on Thursday. Colfax-Mingo opens the second part of the SICL tournament against Sigourney (9-15) after host Lynnville-Sully (14-12) takes on North Mahaska (13-14) at 5 p.m.
“We needed a win,” Grant said. “We want to be .500 or better this week. We are going to play a lot of matches this week. We play well in flashes and we play bad in flashes. We just need to play our best all the time. Getting a win tonight is big.”
Wilson had the first two kills for the Tigerhawks against Keota, but the Eagles led 5-2 early in the opening set.
An Earles tip open floor made it 5-3, and then a long service run by Wilson shifted momentum to the Tigerhawks. Wilson served it 10 straight times, collecting four aces during that stretch.
Wilson mixed up her serve with hard line drives and soft lofts over the net. Both were successful, led to several aces and kept the Eagles off balance.
“I have been working on it a lot in practice,” Wilson said of her serve. “I usually do the same serve every time and it gets pretty easy to defend and work off of. I am trying to mix it up a bit, and I tried to use that match as a warm up for the Iowa Valley match.”
Back-to-back kills by freshman Chelsey Temple and junior Mac Brown preceded consecutive aces by Wilson to give Colfax-Mingo a 13-5 lead.
Keota (2-18) couldn’t get closer than five the rest of the way. Grant called timeout with her team up 22-17. The Tigerhawks responded with a Wilson kill sandwiched between two kills by Temple.
Temple finished with eight kills and three aces in the win.
Colfax-Mingo (10-13) got out to an 8-1 lead in the second set. Wilson (three kills) and Earles (two kills and two aces) scored seven of the eight points to give their squad a boost.
Keota got within 9-6 before Wilson and Temple went back to work. Leading 12-7, Wilson blasted five kills and Temple had a pair of kills and two aces to push the lead to 19-9. Temple put the Tigerhawks up 2-0 in the match with a final kill in the set.
After using her power to put away kills in the first two sets, Wilson countered with back-to-back tips at the net to give the Tigerhawks a 3-2 in the third set.
Junior Colbee Cunningham served it six straight times to keep momentum on C-M’s side. Wilson collected two kills and a block during that stretch and the Tigerhawks led 8-2.
Cunningham had two of the Tigerhawks’ 16 aces in the match. Brown and Earles each had three aces.
The lead grew to nine after a kill by junior Braedynn Rawlins and then Temple kept it at an eight-point advantage with another blast. A long service run by Brown, including two aces, pushed the lead to 22-10, and C-M scored three of the next four points to close it out.
“The win is definitely a positive. We needed something like this to build us back up,” Earles said.
Wilson, Temple and Earles finished with 35 of the team’s 41 kills. Cunningham also had four.
The Tigerhawks had 57 digs with seven players having at least four. Junior libero Chelsea Russell led the way with 16, Wilson finished with 10, Earles had nine, Brown got seven, Temple tallied six, Cunningham claimed five and freshman Kira Warrick finished with four.
“We need Ries to be great. We aren’t even hiding it anymore. You are going to need to stop her to beat us,” Grant said. “But (Brown) played well tonight and last night and (Cunningham) gives us an option, too.”
The Tigerhawks were 68-of-72 in serves. Earles (15-of-15) and Temple (13-of-13) were perfect, Wilson was 14-of-16 and Cunningham finished 13-of-14.
“We’ve gotten better with serving as the year has gone on,” Earles said. “I just try to get it over the net but was able to get some aces tonight, too.”
Against the Tigers, Wilson blasted 13 of the team’s 15 kills, Earles delivered 14 assists and Wilson completed her second double-double of the night with 12 digs. Earles also tallied nine digs and Russell chipped in seven digs.
Colfax-Mingo missed only two serves in the match but had just one ace from Brown.
Iowa Valley (24-10) served up eight aces and was 73-of-74 in serves. The Tigers had 43 kills in the win. Senior Caleigh Smith collected a match-high 16 kills.