Prep Volleyball

Springville coach and daughter will get photo sequel at state volleyball, 11 years later

Nia Howard pilots Springville's upset of No. 9 Lisbon in regional final

IOWA CITY — When Claude Howard guided Springville to his first state volleyball tournament in 2008, his 3-year-old daughter posed for a picture at the U.S. Cellular Center.

“She was in a passing position,” Howard said. “Now we’re going to go take that picture again (next week).”

Nia Howard has grown into a 14-year-old freshman setter. She distributed 28 assists, and Springville’s block frustrated ninth-ranked Lisbon in a four-set Class 1A volleyball regional-final upset Tuesday night at Regina High School.

Scores were 25-13, 10-25, 25-20 and 25-18.

“This has been my goal since I was 3 years old,” Nia Howard said. “My dad has always been coaching volleyball, and I’ve always wanted to make it to state with him.

“We played so hard. I’m so proud of everybody.”

Claude and Nia shared an emotional hug along the sideline as the rest of the Orioles celebrated at midcourt.

“My heart is full,” Claude said. “I can hardly contain myself.”

Springville (20-16) will face top-ranked Sidney (35-6) in a first-round match at the state tournament at 6 p.m. next Wednesday at the U.S. Cellular Center, Cedar Rapids.

The Orioles’ rotation consists of four freshmen and four sophomores. But after the Lions (36-8) shot to a 7-1 lead in the opening set, the younger team was the more composed team.

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“We’re young, yeah, but that doesn’t mean anything,” said sophomore Morgan Nachazel, who led all attackers with 13 kills. “We came here to win.”

Coach Howard called timeout at 7-1.

“I just said, ‘We’ve been here before. We’ve got to be mentally tough,’” he said.

Springville turned it around immediately, outscoring the Lions 24-6 through the remainder of the set. Lisbon rolled through Game 2, but the Orioles jumped in front 8-3 in the third set, and retained momentum the rest of the way.

“We didn’t play as clean as we did the other night (in a regional-semifinal sweep of Clinton Prince of Peace), but give all the credit to Springville,” Lisbon Coach Lance Kamaus said. “They didn’t play like a bunch of freshmen and sophomores.”

Lauren Wilson added nine kills, and she and Lily Clark spearheaded a blocking game that held Lisbon’s top hitter, Maysun Marshall, to seven kills.

“We knew we had to stop her,” Nachazel said. “We adjusted our offense to where she was at, and we shut her down.”

Rylan Allison paced the Lions with 11 kills. McKenna Nelson collected 39 assists.

This will be Springville’s sixth state appearance, all under Howard. The Orioles will be big underdogs against Sidney, but if Tuesday was any foreshadowing, they won’t be afraid.

“These kids are fighters,” Howard said. “They don’t feel fear.”

SPRINGVILLE 3, LISBON 1 (25-13, 10-25, 25-20, 25-18)

Class 1A Regional Final, at Iowa City Regina

Serving — Springville 75-82 (.915), Lisbon 72-76 (.947).

Aces — Springville 6 (Savannah Nealman, Nia Howard 2), Lisbon 7 (Kiah Kilburg 3)

Kills — Springville 36 (Morgan Nachazel 13), Lisbon 41 (Rylan Allison 11).

Assists — Springville 33 (Howard 28), Lisbon 40 (McKenna Nelson 39).

Blocks — Springville 11 (Molly Stamp, Lily Clark 3), Lisbon 2 (Olivia Hasselmann, Allison).

Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

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