CEDAR RAPIDS — Katie Kopriva is the focal point, sure. But not the only option.
“We know that people are going to camp on me,” Kopriva said. “There are other girls on the team than just me that can hit.”
Carlie Gorder and Abby Deboef, for instance.
With fifth-ranked North Tama facing a 24-23 deficit in the third set, it was Deboef that came through with a kill and a block. Then, with the Redhawks at match point, Gorder closed it out with a kill to finish off No. 4 Le Mars Gehlen, 25-20, 25-22, 26-24, in a Class 1A quarterfinal at the state volleyball tournament Wednesday night at the U.S. Cellular Center.
It was a landmark moment; North Tama (27-6) won its first state match in school history.
“We have a few hitters,” Gorder said. “We all know our role.”
The Redhawks advance to Thursday’s semifinal against No. 1 Sidney (36-6), a three-set victor over Springville. Play like they did Wednesday, and the Redhawks have a shot.
“We’re confident right now,” North Tama Coach Channing Halstead said. “We haven’t had a match in which all the hitters were contributing at once. But we had it tonight.”
Kopriva leads the Redhawks at 4.00 kills per set. She surpassed that Wednesday with 13 kills. Deboef added 11 and Gorder contributed 10 (with a sparkling .421 efficiency).
North Tama knocked off a state-tournament regular; Gehlen (25-8) was making its 10th appearance in the last 11 years.
But there was no fear from the Redhawks. They did not face a deficit in either of the first two sets.
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“When we qualified two years ago, it was a big deal to the school and the community,” libero Takoa Kopriva said. “This time, we hoped to do more.”
Gehlen rallied from a 19-14 deficit in the second set to tie it at 19-19 and 21-21, but the Redhawks responded with kills by Isabel Sierra, Gorder and Grace Thorsen to reclaim command.
Game 3 featured 10 ties and six lead changes, with the final swing going the Redhawks’ way.
“I was just trying to serve it hard and make it tough for them,” Takoa Kopriva said.
Sierra collected 30 assists and 13 digs for the winners.
Sydney Livermore posted nine kills, 12 assists and 12 digs for Gehlen.
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