Belle Plaine lost eight volleyball players to graduation last season, one of whom now plays at Iowa State University.
If you anticipated a step backward, you would be wrong.
“I really didn’t know what to expect,” Coach April Kressley said. “It’s amazing what we’ve done.”
Nicholaa Phillippe blossomed into a prolific attacker, and the Plainsmen captured the South Iowa Cedar League championship. They have won 20 of their last 22 matches, and take a 26-12 record into Monday’s Class 1A regional quarterfinal at home against Iowa Valley (16-18).
First serve is 7 p.m.
A 5-foot-9 junior, Phillippe became the focus of the Plainsmen’s attack after Kenzie Mantz graduated and departed for Ames. Phillippe has averaged 4.06 kills per set, with a .300 kill efficiency.
“She has been playing since she was a freshman,” said Kressley, in her second year as the team’s head coach. “She had been in the background a little, but we knew the potential she had.”
The Plainsmen feature only one senior — libero Macy Dodd — and Kressley said there is a buzz locally about this team’s future, along with its current prospects of a lengthy postseason run.
“The vibe in town is really amazing,” Kressley said. “This team is young and fun to watch.”
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Sophomore Alyssa Tegeler adds 2.46 kills per set, and the attack is run by a freshman, Mandy Chizek (8.16 assists per set).
Belle Plaine has faced Iowa Valley twice this season, winning both — including a five-setter on Sept. 26.
“They’re going to pick up balls and come right back at us,” Kressley said. “We have a good front row. If our defense plays well and we serve-receive well, we should be OK.”
The area’s two ranked 1A teams open the postseason Monday. Fifth-rated North Tama (22-6) hosts Collins-Maxwell (13-13), and No. 9 Lisbon (34-7) entertains Calamus-Wheatand (9-24).
Dyersville Beckman is the lone ranked area club in 2A. The third-rated Blazers (37-8) host Sumner-Fredericksburg (17-18).
Regional semifinals are Tuesday in 5A, 4A and 3A.
Monday’s Class 2A regional quarterfinals
All matches 7 p.m.
Danville (8-17) at Mediapolis (39-1)
Louisa-Muscatine (14-12) at Wapello (16-14)
Colfax-Mingo (9-21) at Hudson (28-7)
Columbus Community (6-22) at Iowa City Regina (6-28)
Sumner-Fredericksburg (17-18) at Dyersville Beckman (37-8)
Clayton Ridge (14-17) at MFL MarMac (14-11)
West Fork (7-15) at Denver (25-14)
South Hardin (14-13) at Aplington-Parkersburg (15-16)
Durant (10-21) at Wilton (32-3)
Bellevue (18-16) at North Cedar (20-19)
Maquoketa Valley (14-14) at Cascade (22-10)
Alburnett (13-15) at West Branch (19-15)
Monday’s Class 1A regional quarterfinals
All matches 7 p.m.
Collins-Maxwell (13-13) at North Tama (22-6)
Lynnville-Sully (18-7) at Montezuma (19-16)
Baxter (13-11) at Conrad BCLUW (21-14)
Grand View Christian (20-19) at Southeast Warren (18-14)
Starmont (13-17) at Wapsie Valley (20-15)
West Central (19-12) vs. Don Bosco (16-15), at Winthrop
Turkey Valley (20-12) at Tripoli (16-20)
South Winneshiek (3-25) at Edgewood-Colesburg (25-9)
Calamus-Wheatland (9-24) at Lisbon (34-7)
Easton Valley (10-19) at Clinton Prince of Peace (21-16)
Iowa Valley (16-18) at Belle Plaine (26-12)
Cedar Valley Christian (12-16) at Springville (17-16)
Burlington Notre Dame (18-18) at Fort Madison Holy Trinity (25-10)
Seymour (15-16) vs. Wayne (9-17), at Moravia
Keota (5-16) at New London (27-8)
North Mahaska (16-11) at WACO (22-11)
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