Springville's state volleyball title hopes dashed in five-set loss to LeMars Gehlen

Jays will play No. 1 Janesville for state title

Springville's Mikayla Nachazel is consoled by coach Tiffany Bormann after their Class 1A semifinal loss to LeMars Gehlen at the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS – Seemingly in unison, every player for the Springville volleyball team crumpled to the floor.

The Orioles had been two points away from a berth in the Class 1A state championship match. In the end, they were left with the sting of defeat magnified by a considerable senior send-off.

LeMars Gehlen junior Katie Peters posted a match-high 28 kills as the third-ranked Jays eliminated No. 2 Springville, 25-19, 25-27, 25-20, 17-25, 16-14, in a Class 1A state semifinal last night at the U.S. Cellular Center.

“We didn’t stop her as many times as we probably needed to,” Springville Coach Claude Howard said. “Part of our game plan was to make them have to pass that ball … It didn’t work out that way. They fought hard. It’s a hard-fighting team.”

LeMars Gehlen (29-6) was also pushed to five games in Wednesday’s quarterfinal and rallied from a two games to none deficit to oust Tripoli. The Jays will play No. 1 Janesville (36-7), a two-time defending state champion, for the 1A title tonight at 7 p.m.

“I hope we have enough energy left after a couple of games like we’ve had,” Gehlen Coach Mike Meyer said.

Trailing two games to one, Springville appeared to find some footing in Game 4. With the Jays leading 3-1, the Orioles strung together five-straight points and never trailed again in the game.

“We just came out really confident, knowing where to place the ball,” senior Mikayla Nachazel said. “We just knew we needed to get that game.”

The momentum briefly carried over into the winner-take-all Game 5 as Springville jumped out to a 3-0 advantage, the first of two three-point leads for the Orioles in the deciding game.

With Springville leading 10-7, Gehlen took a timeout and Peters and her Jays’ teammates starting chipping away at the lead.

“I was feeling pretty confident, we were leading,” Springville senior Rylee Menster said. “We just couldn’t put it together.”

Beginning at 10-10, there were five ties and four lead changes the rest of the way. With the score knotted at 14-14, the Jays were the first to score consecutive points and with them came victory.

“I think we just realized that we really wanted to win,” Peters said. “It was now or never. It could have been our last game ever as a team. We pushed past that and realized that we wanted it more.”

Sydney Livermore added 30 assists and 18 digs for Gehlen, while Peters, Brooklyn Heissel and Chloe Bunkers tallied 12 digs.

“Looking back, I don’t think there was anything we could have done else,” Nachazel said. “We played with a lot of heart. We played with so much intensity.”

The defeat closed the fantastic volleyball careers of five productive Springville seniors that included two appearances in the state semifinals out of three tournament trips.

Samantha Johnson posted 16 kills, Menster and Alyssa Jaeger had 12, and Nachazel notched 11.

Madi Wagaman led the Orioles with 44 assists and 20 digs, while Menster added 19 digs.

“They gave us everything they had for four years and tonight gave us everything they had to try to fight through and win that match,” Howard said. “I just told them I’m proud of them.”

l Comments: douglas.miles@thegazette.com

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