116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Make it two top-five postseason upsets for the North Tama Redhawks.
Which brings up a legitimate question:
Are they truly upsets?
“When we play our best, we’re one of the top teams here,” libero Kaitlyn Calderwood said.
Nobody has proven her wrong yet.
No. 12 North Tama continued to play far above its ranking, outlasting No. 2 Le Mars Gehlen in a five-set Class 1A quarterfinal thriller, 24-26, 25-18, 25-22, 22-25, 15-11, at the state volleyball tournament Tuesday night at the Alliant Energy PowerHouse.
“We believe we’re better than our ranking,” Calderwood said. “We had some rough losses that hurt us earlier, but we’ve come out of that.”
» Photo gallery: North Tama vs. Le Mars Gehlen in state volleyball tournament
North Tama (31-10) has matched its semifinal finish from 2019, and has an opportunity to surpass it Wednesday. The Redhawks face No. 3 Springville (34-4) at 6 p.m.
The Redhawks have hit their stride in the postseason. They toppled No. 4 Lisbon in a regional final last week, then tripped perennial qualifier Gehlen.
“We do better as underdogs,” said hitter Shae Ewoldt, one of four junior starters. “We love going for the upset.”
Leading 7-2, North Tama gave up a seven-point Gehlen run in the fifth set. Instead of wilting, the Redhawks answered.
“When we came into our huddle (at 7-7), we said, ‘We’re not done yet. We want this,’” Ewoldt said. “We knew we weren’t playing our best, but it was ‘Let’s go, let’s finish.’”
Lainey Willenbring posted two kills in their closing 7-1 rush.
Ewoldt led all attackers, with 20 kills (against 16 errors). She had five kills early in the fifth set.
“I had all the momentum and I went for it and stayed aggressive,” she said.
Willenbring added 15 kills, and setter Jadyn Rausch posted nine kills and 37 assists.
Gehlen (25-6) was making its 12th state appearance in the last 13 years. Lauren Heying led the Jays with 15 kills. Larissa Sitzmann added 14, Miyah Whitehead 11.
The Jays forced a fifth set by overcoming a 20-17 deficit in Game 4.