COUNCIL BLUFFS — Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln players couldn’t wait to get back on a volleyball court. And this time they didn’t overlook their opponent.
Facing a Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson squad they already swept twice this fall, the host Lynx bore down and did it again Thursday night, prevailing 25-13, 25-7, 25-15 in the Class 5-A postseason opener for both schools. No. 10 Abraham Lincoln will meet No. 9 West Des Moines Dowling in a Region 2 final with a state tournament spot on the line Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Waukee.
The Lynx (38-11) were coming off a weeklong wait after an early exit from the Missouri River Conference tournament. The top-seeded Lynx were upset by fourth-seeded Sioux City East in a semifinal that A.L. coach Brittany Ridenour said may not have had her girls’ full attention.
“It feels like we haven’t played in a while, so we were anxious to get this going,” Ridenour said. “We want to start proving ourselves and getting where we need to be.”
They got off to a good start in the one-hour match Thursday. Senior Victoria Krohn more than doubled Thomas Jefferson’s kill total by herself with 20, and Delaney Bolton added eight. Lauren Colpitts and setter Samantha Bohnet each chipped in five.
Libero Bailee Gofta made her mark offensively by serving Abraham Lincoln to decisive runs in each set. Her right arm helped close the first set with nine straight points, then she led an 11-0 surge that opened a 19-5 edge in the second. The junior was at it again in the third, mixing in short offerings and spot serves to blow open a 4-4 game with nine in a row.
She finished with four aces, with many more attempts turning into free balls or overpasses.
“I just went back there and — I don’t know — didn’t think about it and served like normal,” Gofta said. “We were pumped. We knew that we needed to win this game to go on in regional play.”
Thomas Jefferson (13-21) got five kills from junior Rachel O’Neal, and Alexis Alcarez was the only other Jacket with multiple kills. Thomas Jefferson saw its season end to its crosstown rival for the fifth time in six years.
Seniors Anna Lambrecht, Kennedy Lundberg, Cheyenne Pecha, Cathryn O’Hara and Payton Riche each played their final prep matches for Thomas Jefferson.
“I thought what they showed was really, really good,” Jackets coach Mike Bond said. “It wasn’t one of those where they floundered and were ad-libbing. They stuck to what they worked on and they gave great effort and for that we’re proud of them.”
Bond said that, unlike past years, a large graduating class won’t be crippling to the program. Enough depth is developing for the Jackets to build on this season, which included a tournament win at Sidney.
But with no one taller than 5-foot-9, the Jackets had few answers Thursday against Abraham Lincoln’s powerful hitters.
“They’re tall and they can smack the ball down,” Lundberg said. “We’re kind of under the net and they’re above it. But we played hard; we’ve progressed a lot.”
The Lynx now turn their attention to Dowling (29-8). They’re eyeing their fifth trip to Cedar Rapids in the last seven years, though they lost in a regional final last fall.
“Anything can happen,” Ridenour said, “but we’re going to come out on top.”
Thomas Jefferson (13-21) ............................ 13 7 15
At Abraham Lincoln (38-11) ............................ 25 25 25
TJ (kills-aces-blocks): Anna Lambrecht 0-0-0, Brianna Pullen 0-0-0, Cheyenne Pecha 0-1-0, Kaeleen Garcia 1-0-0, Cathryn O’Hara 0-0-0, Rachel O’Neal 5-0-0, Kennedy Lundberg 0-0-0, Alexis Alcarez 2-0-0, Payton Riche 0-0-0, Libby Havenridge 0-0-0.
AL: Samantha Bohnet 5-2-1, Bailee Gofta 0-4-0, Kaitlyn Murphy 4-0-1, Krechele Brown 0-0-0, Lauren Colpitts 5-1-2, Paige Wohlers 0-0-0, Deana Roth 0-0-0, Victoria Krohn 20-1-1, Hannah Hennings 0-0-0, Kelsey Johnson 4-0-0, Delaney Bolton 8-1-0.
Set assists: AL, Bohnet 36, Colpitts 2. TJ, Garcia 6.