COLFAX — Colfax-Mingo volleyball coach Michelle Grant wore an Iowa Valley T-shirt to practice on Oct. 11.
Grant is an alum of Iowa Valley but went into the Oct. 12 South Iowa Cedar League pool play matchup having never beaten her alma mater.
The T-shirt was designed to keep her team focused on the task at hand, and the Tigerhawks dominated Iowa Valley to advance to the SICL Gold Quad for the first time since 2016.
Behind a stellar serving performance that included 15 aces, Colfax-Mingo downed Iowa Valley 25-14, 25-9, 25-19 to bring their overall record to .500 after starting 1-4.
“It felt great to win. I am too old to know anyone there at this point and we’ve been here for so long that it doesn’t mean as much anymore,” said Grant about her connection to Iowa Valley. “I had never beaten them before, and we haven’t really been that close honestly. So this one felt good.”
The Tigerhawks were 71-of-73 in serves. Kyra Lester was 17-of-17 with five aces, Morgan Van Dyke served 16-of-16 with two aces and Chelsey Temple was 13-of-13 with four aces.
Kira Warrick returned to the lineup to serve 14-of-15 with four aces.
Temple and Warrick are the only two seniors on the varsity. Both of them started the season just hoping to play volleyball one final time for the Tigerhawks.
“It was scary. We have tried to be very careful because you never know,” Temple said. “We are doing well right now so I am glad they had the season, and it feels good to still be playing.”
Warrick missed the last couple weeks of matches because of a COVID-19 situation.
She didn’t think they’d be playing at all at the start of the season but got emotional when she found out she had to temporarily shut it down.
“I cried a lot at first. It was pretty upsetting,” Warrick said. “But then I thought about the team and that they got to still play and I would get to come back eventually. That’s all that matters.
“As a senior, I thought this was going to be a bad year. I thought we’d have nothing. I’m really surprised it worked out, but we have been doing well with the guidelines.”
On the court, Colfax-Mingo (9-9) got out to fast starts in the first two sets against Iowa Valley, which won a four-set match over BGM to play the Tigerhawks in the finals.
A pair of kills by Caylee Cunningham put the Tigerhawks ahead 7-2 in the opening set. The lead grew to 16-4 following a pair of aces by Temple, a kill by Melany Vry and a tip by Lester.
Van Dyke took over after that, putting down three kills over the course of four points to make it 20-7.
“Morgan figured out that if you hit it down the line they don’t play it,” Grant said. “We did some scouting. We watched a lot of film. We had tunnel vision on this match. Iowa Valley has been all that mattered to us for a while.”
Van Dyke led the Tigerhawks with nine kills, 16 digs and three assists. Lester added 20 assists, six kills and three digs.
In the second set, C-M scored six straight points to go up 8-2 and another Cunningham blast made it 13-5.
Van Dyke had two kills and Lester served back-to-back aces down the stretch to extend the lead to 21-8.
The most competitive set was the final one. The Tigerhawks couldn’t shake their visitors early and Colfax-Mingo even trailed 9-6.
A tip and two aces by Lester put C-M in front 12-10, but it stayed close until the Tigerhawks went on a 7-0 run to go up 21-14.
“They might have been tired after playing earlier,” Warrick said. “We worked really well together as a team and our good attitudes helped us. We pick each other up when things don’t go well, too.”
Warrick was key during the 7-0 stretch, serving up all four of her aces in that run. Another service error by the Tigers (5-17) made it 22-16 and Cunningham, Van Dyke and Lester all had kills to finish it off.
Lester scored the final point of the match with a tip that was perfectly placed in the middle of the Tiger defense.
“We just found the holes,” said Temple, who was in eighth grade the last time C-M played in the SICL Gold Quad. “We put it in places that they weren’t. If we snuck it short, they would come in and then we’d go long.”
Temple tallied three kills and six digs for C-M, while fellow senior Warrick had four assists and four digs.
Cunningham tallied seven kills, Carley Underwood finished with seven digs, McKayla Smith added two kills and three digs and Vry chipped in two kills and two digs.
The SICL Gold Quad will be played on Oct. 15 in Belle Plaine. The three teams joining Colfax-Mingo will be host Belle Plaine (21-8), Montezuma (10-5) and HLV (10-8). The matchups were not known at press time.
Colfax-Mingo 3, Lynnville-Sully 1
COLFAX — Lynnville-Sully’s volleyball team has six seniors in the starting lineup.
But on Oct. 6 against Colfax-Mingo, it was a pair of Tigerhawk juniors who guided their team to a big SICL victory.
Lester and Van Dyke each had double-doubles and Colfax-Mingo downed Lynnville-Sully 23-25, 25-19, 25-19, 25-22 in an SICL showdown.
“It was a big win. It’s Lynnville-Sully and they are always good,” Lester said. “Everyone contributed. It was a great team effort. There were great attitudes and great effort all around.”
Colfax-Mingo locked up second place in the SICL West Division with the victory.
Lester tallied 38 assists, 21 digs, three kills and two blocks in the win over the Hawks, while Van Dyke added 24 kills and 24 digs.
The Hawks played their first match in more than two weeks on Oct. 5 when it defeated Iowa Valley.
L-S appeared to be a little rusty after not playing in a few weeks after the school district decided to go 100 percent online because of COVID-19.
“A lot of it is the fact that we hadn’t played much in two weeks,” L-S coach Kyra Smith said. “Our communication was off. There were things we didn’t do that we could have done though. We didn’t cover tips. We didn’t cover ourselves on blocks. And hitting the ball in the court would help, too.”
Colfax-Mingo controlled most of all four sets against L-S.
The Hawks (9-6 overall, 3-3 in the conference) rallied from a 19-15 hole with a 7-0 run that led to a 25-23 win in the opening set.
The Tigerhawks led 5-0 in the second set before L-S rallied to tie the game at 11-all. C-M outscored L-S 14-8 the rest of the way. It led by as many as seven following an ace by Temple.
The final point of the set came on a Lester tip that was touched by Krystal Van Dyke at the net but fell to the ground in bounds.
“We shot ourselves in the foot in the first set, but we never let it get to us. We let it get to us the night before,” Grant said. “Last night’s win didn’t feel good. We feel good about this one. We had more fun tonight, and that’s how we need to play.”
Colfax-Mingo (5-2 in the SICL) jumped out to a 10-1 lead in the third set. Cunningham, Smith and Morgan Van Dyke each had a pair of kills to push the Tigerhawks’ lead to 14-6.
With the lead at 16-7, Korinne Jansen led the Hawks on a comeback.
Four kills and two aces by Jansen brought L-S to within 21-17, but C-M outscored the Hawks 4-3 the rest of the way to take a lead in the match.
An ace by Underwood ended the set for the Tigerhawks.
L-S led 3-1 to open the fourth set but three consecutive kills by Cunningham put the Tigerhawks in front 5-4.
The set remained close until C-M closed the frame on a 9-4 run that included three kills by Morgan Van Dyke and two aces and a kill by Cunningham.
Morgan Van Dyke put down nine kills in the fourth frame. Cunningham recorded four kills and two aces in the set.
Cunningham also had a double-double for the Tigerhawks, finishing with 12 kills and 15 digs. Underwood finished with 14 digs and four assists and Temple also had 14 digs.
Smith had eight kills and three digs and Vry put down six kills.
“Our serve receive has stepped up from last year, which gives me more options as a setter,” Lester said. “If you have a perfect pass, I can choose where I go to keep the other team guessing. It’s nice to have options so we can mix it up.”
The Tigerhawks were 94-of-97 in serves with Temple leading the way at 16-of-16. Underwood was 14-of-14, Cunningham was 13-of-13, Lester served 22-of-23 and Morgan Van Dyke ended up 18-of-19.
Colfax-Mingo 3, English Valleys 1
NORTH ENGLISH — It took Colfax-Mingo a set to get going but when the Tigerhawks got on track they cruised to a road win over English Valleys.
Colfax-Mingo rallied from an early hole to defeat the Bears 16-25, 25-21, 25-17, 25-17 on Oct. 5 during an SICL contest.
English Valleys fell to 4-15 overall and 2-5 in conference play.
Lester led the Tigerhawks against English Valleys with 29 assists, 16 digs, three kills and two aces.
Cunningham tallied a career-high 16 kills and had seven digs and three aces, Morgan Van Dyke added 13 digs, 11 kills and two assists and Underwood chipped in 13 digs, four assists and two aces.
Temple had five kills, five digs and two assists, Smith tallied five kills and two digs and Vry finished with four kills and four digs.
The Tigerhawks were 82-of-90 in serves. Lester served 21-of-21, Underwood was 16-of-16 and Temple finished 13-of-13.