On more than one level, an extended run by the Lisbon High School volleyball team this season looked like an unlikelihood in August.
If it wasn’t the COVID-19 pandemic that threatened to shut down any team at any time, it was youth and varsity inexperience.
“It’s been a season that I never thought would happen, and results that few people thought would happen,” Lions Coach Lance Kamaus said. “Now we’ve got to take advantage of the opportunity that’s in front of us.”
Winners of 22 of their last 23 matches, the 10th-ranked Lions (26-4) host WACO (25-7) in a Class 1A regional semifinal Monday. First serve is 7 p.m.
When the Lions lost with a senior-dominated lineup in last year’s regional final, it appeared their state tournament window had closed.
Not so. Instead, they have followed it with perhaps their best season in school history. And, with four sophomore starters, the best might be yet to come.
“With the eight kids we run out there, we play pretty good defense,” Kamaus said. “Kiah (Kilburg) and Peyton (Robinson) really anchor our defense, and that gives us a lot of opportunities to swing.”
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Class 1A and Class 2A regional semifinals are Monday, with winners advancing to Wednesday’s regional finals.
The highest ranked area 1A team, No. 7 Springville (25-4), hosts Clinton Prince of Peace (20-9). Among 2A ranked squads, No. 8 Dyersville Beckman (29-9) welcomes No. 10 Hudson (27-7) and No. 14 West Branch (19-12) meets Van Buren County (11-14) at Mediapolis.
The highlight of Lisbon’s late-season surge was a Tri-Rivers Conference tournament championship Oct. 17.
“That was three tough wins against three quality opponents,” Kamaus said. “You want to be playing your best volleyball at the end of the season, and in many ways, we are.”
Beckman has reached three straight state tournaments, including a run to the 2A finals last year. To get back to the Alliant Energy PowerHouse, the Blazers most likely will have to navigate through two matches against foes from the mighty North Iowa Cedar League (No. 7 Sumner-Fredericksburg is the probably regional final opponent).
Nine NICL teams are ranked.
“Those teams are very good,” said Beckman Coach Todd Troutman, who picked up his 600th career win earlier this season. “They’re similar to the teams on the east side of the Wamac.
“But one thing about our team, we’ve stepped up to big challenges all year. I don’t think they’re intimidated by anything. I don’t they’ll be afraid.”
Monday's Class 2A regional semifinals
(All matches, 7 p.m.)
Starmont (19-12) at Denver (31-5)
Waterloo Columbus (19-15) vs. Grundy Center (19-17), at Jesup
Clayton Ridge (12-7) at Sumner-Fredericksburg (25-7)
Hudson (27-7) at Dyersville Beckman (29-9)
Columbus Community (13-12) vs. Wilton (30-3), at Durant
West Branch (19-12) vs. Van Buren County (11-14), at Mediapolis
Monday's Class 1A regional semifinals
(All matches, 7 p.m.)
Dunkerton (18-9) at Wapsie Valley (18-7)
Turkey Valley (20-6) at Saint Ansgar (21-4)
Clinton Prince of Peace (20-9) at Springville (25-4)
Montezuma (14-6) at Belle Plaine (25-8)
Burlington Notre Dame (15-5) at Fort Madison Holy Trinity (26-9)
WACO (25-7) at Lisbon (26-4)
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