CEDAR RAPIDS — Before taking the court, Coach Amy Calonder sometimes has her team take a moment, relax and breathe.
“We visualize different things, the first point and the last point,” Kamryn Chapman said.
Right now, for the Tipton Tigers, reality is even better than fantasy.
Setter/hitter combo players Sommer Daniel and Amanda Smith both were outstanding, and second-ranked Tipton handled No. 9 Mount Vernon, 25-19, 23-25, 25-21, 25-20, in a Class 3A semifinal at the state volleyball tournament Thursday afternoon at the U.S. Cellular Center.
“We’ve been waiting for this all season,” Smith said. “We played really well today. Now, we’re going to have to come out (Friday) and play even better.”
That’s when the Tigers (39-3) face No. 1 Carroll Kuemper (44-1) for the 3A championship. First serve is 2:30 p.m.
“We were lights-out today, particularly in serve-receive,” Daniel said. “We might have some hiccups here and there, but we talk so well and we solve problems well together.”
The Tigers looked a little wobbly in their first-round win Wednesday, much more comfortable Thursday.
“We played Tipton volleyball today,” Daniel said.
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In the three sets it won, Tipton was in control pretty much all the way. The Tigers spotted Mount Vernon (28-16) the first point, then scored the next seven, and weren’t threatened.
Just like Wednesday, Tipton dropped the second set. Then in the third, the Tigers broke a 6-6 tie with a pair of points and led the rest of the way.
In Game 4, the Tigers zapped Mount Vernon with an eight-point run for a 10-3 lead and held an 18-8 advantage. The Mustangs got within three, but ran out of time.
“It’s pretty simple,” Mustangs Coach Maggie Willems said. “We made an excessive amount of errors. There’s not much more to it than that.”
Actually, both teams had 19 attack errors, and Tipton had more service miscues. So there is more to it: Tipton enjoyed a 65-44 kill advantage, and the Tigers’ kill efficiency (.315) was at a high level.
Daniel (27 kills, 17 assists) and Smith (12 and 31, plus 19 digs) are rare dual-threat players. Chapman added 10 kills, Blake Ehler eight.
Rory Light paced the Mustangs with 16 kills.
“(Tipton) came ready to play,” Light said. “They’re a heck of a team.”
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