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CEDAR RAPIDS — Somebody forgot to tell the Tri-Center Trojans they were playing the defending Class 1A state champion.
Coach Amy Wingert's team took it right to No. 1 Burlington Notre Dame in the first set of Tuesday night's state quarterfinal match at the Alliant Energy PowerHouse, winning 25-23.
That was all the wake-up call the Nikes needed.
Coach Mike Davis' team rebounded with renewed vigor in the final three sets and went on to post a 23-25, 25-17, 25-20, 25-14 victory over the No. 14 Trojans.
Notre Dame (36-8) remained unbeaten against 1A competition and advanced to a semifinal contest Wednesday at 6 p.m.
Tri-Center, making its first state trip since 2018, closes at 27-11.
“Hey, every team that gets here is good,” Davis said. “That said, they came out aggressive and we came out flat. We looked like we didn't know how to play for a while and we battled and were almost able to win the game anyway.”
Senior Josie Bentz, who hammered home 17 kills, admitted that the Trojans were better than advertised.
“Honestly, I think they did surprise us,” she said. “They came out on fire. We just needed to settle down and get rid of the jitters. Once we washed that off, I felt we were good for the next three.”
» Photo gallery: Burlington Notre Dame vs. Tri-Center in state volleyball tournament
In the first game, Tri-Center controlled the tempo. That changed once Notre Dame found a rhythm.
“We just tried to focus on ourselves,” Bentz said. “We just had to stop stressing out. When we play calm, we play really well and I think we calmed down and started playing our game.”
Davis said improved defense was the catalyst to Notre Dame's turnaround.
“Our offense is pretty good,” he said, “but we pride ourselves on our defense and we didn't play much that first game. We really got after them about being disciplined and staying in their spots. The second game was a little better, but we really picked it up in three and four.”
Junior Gabby Deery led the Nikes with 28 kills. Ava Parkins had 15 digs.
For Tri-Center, Mikenzie Brewer had 14 kills and Marissa Ring added 12. Tatum Carlson led the defense with 17 digs.