CEDAR RAPIDS — The return was successful and dominant.
Dike-New Hartford experienced a year hiatus when a string of 12 straight state volleyball tournaments was snapped a year ago. This group of young Wolverines seemed right at home.
Third-ranked Dike-New Hartford swept No. 7 Sumner-Fredericksburg for the second time this season, capturing a 25-17, 25-12, 25-13 victory in the Class 2A quarterfinals Tuesday at Alliant Energy PowerHouse. The Wolverines (30-4) advance to the semifinals against No. 2 Wilton (33-3) Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.
“We did a very good job,” Dike-New Hartford Coach Diane Harms said. “We did a good job defensively. Our serving got stronger as we went and our blocking started to pick up, too. Everyone did their jobs. They kept focus and composure and that was huge for us.”
Even though freshman Payton Petersen wasn’t on last season’s team, she was aware of how tough it was for the team not to qualify. They have worked hard to start a new streak.
“I knew that this year we wanted to get back,” Petersen said. “We were so excited to finally have this chance to get back to state and it’s unbelievable.”
The Wolverines never trailed the entire match. They demonstrated a knack for putting up points in a hurry with runs that forced Sumner-Fredericksburg to play catch up. Dike-New Hartford opened the match with a five-point run and closed the first set with three straight points.
The Wolverines broke open a close second set with a pair of six-point streaks, including one to end it.
“Our main goal is to have energy,” Petersen said. “We feed off energy so much. We communicate more and that’s when we go on our big run. It’s so exciting.
“If you end in a good run, that carries over to the next set. We know we have to get that run and not them.”
The momentum remained with the Wolverines. A six-point swing put them up, 9-3, and they capped the match with seven in a row, getting two kills and an ace from Petersen and a kill from Taylor Hoehns.
They worked efficiently, earning kills at a .319 clip. Jadyn Petersen added eight kills, a team-high 12 digs and matched teammate Lexie Fager with three aces. Madelyn Norton had 33 assists.
Payton Petersen powered the Wolverines attack, though. She led all players with 16 kills and a block.
“She has a very nice, fluid swing,” Harms said. “She has a lot of different shots she can hit.”
Dike-New Hartford is making its 30th state tournament appearance. This year’s squad is young. The roster includes just five upperclassmen and only two seniors. The starting lineup consisted of five freshmen and sophomores. The future is bright.
“They are all very smart volleyball players,” Harms said. “All season they have clued in and bought in to what our game plans have been. They communicate with each other on the floor. They just go play and have fun.”
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Sumner-Fredericksburg concludes the season at 27-8. Isabelle Elliott had 10 kills and Morgan Brandt had 10 assists to lead the Cougars.
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