116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CLARENCE — North Cedar's slow start was no surprise.
Neither was its response.
'I'm not quite sure why, but that happens a lot,' Morgan Sander said. 'We're always in the locker room, getting pumped, getting excited.
'I feel like we should have a scrimmage before we play.'
Eighth-ranked North Cedar spotted Tipton the first set, then roared back to win in four (14-25, 26-24, 25-23, 25-20) in a Class 2A regional-semifinal volleyball match Thursday night at North Cedar High School.
'I knew we'd start slow. We tend to do that,' Knights Coach Traci Smith said. 'We weren't talking much the first game. I didn't feel we were really hitting the ball. We've got to stay aggressive.'
North Cedar (34-5) will face No. 12 Mediapolis (32-7) in a regional final at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Iowa City West. The winner advances to the state tournament Nov. 8-11 at the U.S. Cellular Center.
'We want to get there so bad,' said Knights setter Emily Hay. 'We're going to fight for it.'
With five seniors in the starting lineup, North Cedar was by far the more experienced team. But Tipton (25-10) jumped on the Knights early, and pushed them all the way to the finish.
The Tigers' seven-girl rotation featured four sophomores and two freshmen. Ninth-grade dynamo Sommer Daniel led all attackers with 25 kills, and also posted 21 assists.
'We're young, and I think that came through quite a bit,' Tigers Coach Amy Colander said. 'We got down by six points in the second and third games, and we had to work extra hard to tie it back up.'
Tipton dominated the first set, then rallied from an early 9-3 deficit to tie the second at 24-24. But Lakaya Lyon's kill allowed North Cedar to reach set point, then libero Taylor Kress added another to square the match.
Game 3 was a similar story, with North Cedar shooting to a 15-6 lead, Tipton getting even at 23-23, then kills by Sander and Darby Hawtrey concluding the set.
'We're really lucky. We have five all-around hitters,' Hay said. 'When somebody is down, somebody else will step up and put it away when they need to.'
North Cedar scored the first three points of the final, and led the whole way.
Hawtrey led the Knights with 16 kills. Sander added nine, Aubrey Cady and Lyon eight apiece. Hay made it all go with 40 assists.
Blake Ehler added 12 kills for Tipton. Amanda Smith distributed 30 assists.
North Cedar reached the state tournament in each of its first three years of existence (1995-97), but hasn't returned since. The Knights advanced to the regional finals last year before succumbing to Wapsie Valley.
They feel their time has arrived.
'I definitely feel we're going to make it,' Sander said. 'We've earned it.'
NORTH CEDAR 3, TIPTON 1 (14-25, 26-24, 25-23, 25-20)
Class 2A Regional Semifinal, at Clarence
Serving — Tipton 86-92 (.935), North Cedar 87-90 (.967)
Aces — Tipton 5 (Sommer Daniel 2), North Cedar 2 (Darby Hawtrey, Darian Gray)
Kills — Tipton 60 (Daniel 25), North Cedar 53 (Hawtrey 16)
Assists — Tipton 55 (Amanda Smith 30), North Cedar 50 (Emily Hay 40)
Blocks — Tipton 7 (Jamie Kofron 5), North Cedar 7 (Hay, Morgan Sander 2)
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