COUNCIL BLUFFS — Creston was unable to duplicate the performance of Monday’s regional win at Glenwood in falling 3-0 to 11th-ranked Lewis Central in the Class 4A Region 2 semifinal here Thursday.
But, this time the opponent was much richer in talent. Junior Reghan Coyle smacked nine kills and senior Megan Driver and junior Abby Bergsten each provided eight in a 25-15, 25-22, 25-21 victory over the Panthers. Lewis Central’s aggressive serving accounted for 15 aces, but also 11 errors in three sets.
“The shame of it is they have to play Harlan,” said Creston coach Polly Luther. “LC could beat many teams at the state tournament, I’m sure of it. All four 4A teams from our conference were put in the same region.”
Lewis Central (18-15) plays top-ranked Harlan (34-4) Tuesday. The match is scheduled at Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln, although with AL’s win Thursday night, that match may be moved.
Creston ends one game below .500 (13-14) for the second straight year, but showed improvement throughout the season, according to coaches of both teams Thursday.
“Oh my gosh yes,” said LC coach Dennis South. “They are serving more aggressive, passing better. It’s a quick defense. It’s wonderful to see the Hawkeye 10 grow the way it’s growing. Creston was 2-8 (in the Hawkeye 10) this season, but they beat a Glenwood team that went 4-6 and beat them in the regular season. So, yes, Creston made tremendous strides.”
After falling behind 17-6 in the first set, Creston played competitively the rest of the night against the state-rated Titans, who pushed No. 1 Harlan to a third set in a best-of-three match in the LC tournament.
Creston was serving, trailing 22-21, in the second set before LC finished off the set on a 3-1 run. In the final set, Creston rallied from seven down to pull within one (11-10) on Nicole Haley’s kill and an ace serve by Brenna Baker.
Later in that set, It was 23-21 on two strong serves by Sydney Dunphy. But, again, LC captured the final two points to clinch the victory.
Luther said she hopes her players realize how close they are to getting over the hump against state-elite teams.
“I hope they are convinced. It’s a mental thing,” Luther said. “We battled tough in those last two games. Our hitters started swinging a little harder, which was key. Our blockers started getting more touches.”
Natalie Mostek led the Panthers at the net Thursday with seven kills and seven blocks. Angie Sorensen had seven kills and three blocks. Sydney Dunphy was 12-of-13 serving with a team high three aces.
Like Monday, it was a battle of young teams. Lewis Central had the only two senior starters in the match. Luther praised the contributions of her only two seniors, Olivia Nielsen and Audrey Fyock.
“They are just great kids,” Luther said. “They knew from the start where they were at. On the court and off the court, they were great. They were homecoming queen candidates, which speaks to how they are respected at school.”
Serving (aces) — Sydney Dunphy 12-13 (3), Natalie Mostek 9-10 (1), Brenna Baker 8-9 (1), Hanna Luther 10-11, Haylee LaMasters 7-7, Alli Thomsen 5-6.
Attacks (kills) — Mostek 7, Angie Sorensen 7, Dunphy 2, Nicole Haley 2, Jenna Taylor 1.
Blocks — Mostek 7, Sorensen 3, Dunphy 1, Haley 1, Luther 1.
Setting (assists) — Luther 16.
Digs — Thomsen 5, LaMasters 4, Mostek 4, Dunphy 4, Luther 3, Jami Sickels 2.
Serve receives — Sickels 5-8, Thomsen 6-11, LaMasters 4-12, Sorensen 3-5, Mostek 3-12, Luther 1-3, Dunphy 1-8.
Lewis Central statistics
Attacks (kills) — Reghan Coyle 9, Megan Driver 8, Abby Bergsten 8.
Digs — Bergsten 7, Hannah Dmyterko 5.
Serving (aces) — Driver 4, Brenna Jones 3, Kaci Hohenthaner 3; team 15.