NEOLA, Iowa — The Tri-Center volleyball team has endured its share of learning curves this fall. That’s not unusual with three freshman starters.
But the Trojans aced their first postseason test Tuesday evening. Nine players recorded at least one kill as Tri-Center completed a 25-9, 25-17, 25-11 sweep of Logan-Magnolia in the opening round of the Iowa Class 2-A, Region 3 playoffs.
Junior Kirsten Lehan had a match-high 14 kills and senior Anna Spomer added eight in the 55-minute contest. The win sets up a quarterfinal matchup at 2-A No. 15 Treynor (22-11) next Tuesday at 7 p.m.
Tri-Center (12-15) dealt the Cardinals their only Western Iowa Conference loss in a four-set upset Oct. 8. Treynor won a best-of-three tilt in three sets during a September weekend tournament, and the teams have also played multiple times during the preseason.
“They’re going to want to play us and play better than they played the last time — there’s no doubt that will be the case,” Trojans coach Brian Wedemeyer said. “But it’s nice for us to have the confidence to know we’ve played them.”
Tri-Center first got some momentum against a Logan-Magnolia squad that went 1-8 in its inaugural season in the WIC. The Panthers (7-16) took the opening point in all three sets but rarely led the rest of the night. Their deepest advantage was 7-6 in the second set before the Trojans went on a 16-2 surge.
“It’s hard to always play to our potential,” Spomer said. “But we did fairly well at that tonight.”
As they have been all season, freshmen Alyssa Baatz (libero), Tori Masker (setter) and Allison Eikenberry (outside hitter) were regular contributors for Tri-Center. Junior middle Morgan Sullivan helped anchor the effort with six kills, four aces and a pair of blocks.
Lo-Ma’s lone senior, Maysen Jones, collected seven of her team’s 10 kills as the Panthers were swept by Tri-Center for the second time this fall. The Panthers started four freshmen in Megan Lorentzen, setter Bergen Jones, Dani Gochenour and libero Joy Marcum.
Second-year coach Faith Riessen said the same problems continued to plague her group. Inconsistent passing disrupted any offensive rhythm, and miscommunication led to multiple errors.
“We wanted to work hard,” Riessen said. “We let a lot of balls fall that shouldn’t have. The team that looked like they wanted it more took it, and that’s probably the most frustrating part for me.
“Tonight was our chance to make up for it. We just couldn’t produce.”
Tri-Center, which finished seventh in the WIC, next gets an opportunity against the regular-season co-champ Cardinals. Spomer said the last meeting was a turning point in her team’s season — and the rematch could be another.
“We had a good week of practice and we came out strong, which was good,” Spomer said. “Hopefully we can get Treynor.”
Logan-Magnolia (7-16) ............................ 9 17 11
At Tri-Center (12-15) ............................ 25 25 25
LM (kills-aces-blocks): Megan Lorentzen, 0-0-0, Bergen Jones 0-0-1, Dani Gochenour 0-0-0, Abby Straight 1-0-0, Hailey Clark 1-0-0, Maysen Jones 7-1-1, Jo Healey 1-0-0, Joy Marcum 0-1-0.
TC: Hailee Hansen 0-0-0, Haley Fischer 2-0-0, Brooklyn Lehan 0-0-0, Kirsten Lehan 14-0-0, London Faber 1-0-0, Tori Masker 1-2-0, Anna Spomer 8-0-2, Morgan Sullivan 6-4-2, Sammy Andersen 0-0-0, Alyssa Baatz 2-1-0, Keana Coffey 4-0-0, Allison Eikenberry 4-0-0, Nicole Guarino 0-3-0.
Set assists: LM, Bergen Jones 8. TC Masker 28, Andersen 1, Spomer 2, Baatz 2, Guarino 1, Coffey 1.