WEST LIBERTY — Trystin Shawver said she really didn’t know what to expect in her first year as a head coach.
The West Branch volleyball coach obviously came up with a lot of answers, leading the 14th-ranked Bears to Wednesday night’s Class 2A regional final against No. 2 Wilton.
However, Shawver and her players had no answer for Wilton’s Kelsey Drake.
The 5-foot-10 junior pounded home 26 kills as the Beavers rolled to a 25-10, 25-20, 25-17 victory, earning the school’s third straight state trip.
The Beavers will play next Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. against No. 7 Van Meter (19-3) in the quarterfinals at Alliant Energy PowerHouse in Cedar Rapids.
West Branch retires at 20-14.
“When you get to this level, you are going to get everybody’s best, they are going to ball out,” Shawver said. “She did that.”
Drake said she felt good coming into the match.
“I came to hit,” she said with a smile. “We’ve been working really hard in practice on staying aggressive and it really clicked tonight.”
Wilton Coach Brenda Grunder said when Drake gets on a roll, she is tough to defend.
“She just loves to swing,” Grunder said. “She has great hang time and a power swing. It is just a beautiful thing.”
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Wilton scored 16 of the last 19 points to take Game 1. Shawver said it would have been easy for her team to fold at that point.
“I’m honestly so proud of the way our girls fought,” she said. “The girls battled and Wilton is a phenomenal team.”
Game 2 was tied at 17-17 and it appeared the Bears might be able to even the match. Drake took care of that with three kills to help Wilton put the game away. Leading 15-13 in Game 3, the Beavers pulled away as Drake rattled off another string of kills.
Grunder believes her team is in a good position heading to state.
“This team is so comfortable with each other,” she said. “I think they are very aware of their potential and are happy to have this opportunity.”