Maysun Marshall conducted a postmatch interview last week in the hallway outside the Lisbon High School gymnasium. Behind her were dozens of pictures of former athletes that have gone through the school.
Lots of history there with football, baseball, softball and wrestling. Especially wrestling.
Volleyball? Not so much.
“You look at all of these pictures, and you know how much it matters to this community,” Marshall said. “I know how much it would mean if we could make it to state.”
The Lions’ opportunity has arrived.
Ninth-ranked Lisbon (36-7) faces Springville (19-16) in a Class 1A regional final Tuesday at Iowa City Regina. First serve is 6 p.m.
Three other area matches are Tuesday, all starting at 7 p.m. — No. 5 North Tama (25-6) meets Grand View Christian (23-20) in a 1A contest at Marshalltown. In 2A, No. 3 Dyersville Beckman (39-8) takes on No. 14 Denver (27-14) at Sumner, and West Branch (21-15) takes a crack at No. 4 Wilton (34-3) at Durant.
Winners advance to the state tournament next week at the U.S. Cellular Center, Cedar Rapids.
Some of the Lions have worked there before as ball girls on the sidelines. But never in the spotlight.
“It would be one of the best feelings in the world,” said McKenna Nelson, the state leader among 1A setters with 9.16 assists per set. “Us seniors, we’ve been playing together for so long.”
On the other side of the net is an extremely young Springville squad. The Orioles’ rotation of eight consists of four sophomores and four freshmen.
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“We’ve grown a lot the last three weeks,” Springville Coach Claude Howard said. “The kids have really been figuring things out. We went through a change, going to a 5-1 offense, and I think it has helped our consistency.”
Howard’s daughter, freshman Nia Howard, is running the attack now.
“She has wanted to be in this role for a long time,” Coach Howard said. “I told her, there might be some moments I grab her by the collar and she’d have to grow up fast. And she has handled it well.”
For Beckman, Tuesday’s battle with Denver is a rubber match; the teams split a pair of Saturday-tournament matches.
“It’s cliche, but the big thing is serve and pass,” Blazers Coach Todd Troutman said. “If we do those things, we won’t break our own momentum. And we have to establish our middle hitters so they can’t camp out on our outsides.”
Beckman was a 2A state semifinalist last year, but brought back just one starter, Paige McDermott.
“You just don’t know before the season how everybody was going to fit together,” Troutman said. “The girls have bought into their roles.”
Tuesday's area Class 2A regional finals
No. 3 Dyersville Beckman (39-8) vs. No. 14 Denver (27-14)
Time & site: 7 p.m., at Sumner
Overview: These teams split a pair of decisions in back-to-back Saturday tournaments; Beckman won 2-0 at Denver on Sept. 28, then the Cyclones prevailed 2-0 at Waverly on Oct. 5. The Blazers are shooting for their third straight state appearance; they qualified in 3A in 2017, then reached the 2A semifinals last year. Senior Paige McDermott is the lone returning starter, but the arrival of Jada Wills (transfer from Dubuque Hempstead) has helped greatly. Wills leads the Blazers with 4.02 kills per set, and her .469 kill efficiency is tops in 2A. Denver has never been to state, but the Cyclones will have plenty of opportunities in the near future. There’s not a senior on the roster, and the nucleus is comprised mostly of sophomores — including Allison Bonnette (4.29 kills per set) — and freshmen.
West Branch (21-15) vs. No. 4 Wilton (34-3)
Time & site: 7 p.m., at Durant
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Overview: These River Valley Conference South Division rivals crossed paths just once, with Wilton picking up a three-game sweep (25-20, 25-13, 25-13) Sept. 12 at West Branch. Wilton was a state qualifier last year, stunning No. 1 Grundy Center in the regional finals. Three starters are back from that team, including sophomore Kelsey Drake (4.06 kills per set, .432 kill efficiency). The Beavers’ three losses all are to 3A teams. West Branch dropped a set to Alburnett in the regional quarterfinals, then followed that with a sweep of Cascade. Kaiya Luneckas leads the Bears at 3.22 kills per set, and Lexi Klinkkammer adds 2.40.
Tuesday's area Class 1A regional finals
No. 5 North Tama (25-6) vs. Grand View Christian (23-20)
Time & site: 7 p.m., at Marshalltown
Overview: Led by a veteran lineup that features six seniors, North Tama seeks its second state appearance in three years. The Redhawks were upset by Gladbrook-Reinbeck in the regional finals last year, and they’re calling this their “Revenge Tour.” The Kopriva cousins are the focal points. Katie Kopriva averages 3.91 kills per set, and Takoa Kopriva is one of the top small-school back-row players at 5.09 digs per set. Grand View Christian already beat one ranked team (No. 13 Conrad BCLUW in a five-set semifinal), and goes after another. Only three 1A players have taken more swings this season than Grand View’s Sierra Wright, and the senior averages 3.19 kills per set. GVC’s last state trip came in 2015.
No. 9 Lisbon (36-7) vs. Springville (19-16)
Time & site: 6 p.m., at Iowa City Regina
Overview: The winningest season in Lisbon history can add another first if it prevails Tuesday and reaches the state tournament. The Lions have won 15 of their last 16 matches, including postseason sweeps of Calamus-Wheatland and Clinton Prince of Peace. Maysun Marshall collected 23 kills in the regional semifinals and leads the Lions at 3.65 kills per set, with a .374 kill efficiency. McKenna Nelson is No. 1 among 1A setters with 9.16 assists per set. Springville is frightfully young, with four freshmen and four sophomores comprising the current rotation. The Orioles have won eight of their last nine matches, with the only loss coming to Lisbon in the Tri-Rivers tournament quarterfinals, and have swept their way through regional play. Lauren Wilson leads the Orioles with 2.04 kills per set. A win would send Springville to state for the fifth time in seven years.
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