Indians Secure Conference Title, Win LHC Tournament Crown

 

by Wade Steinlage

Grinnell–The Oskaloosa Indian girls’ volleyball team is primed for postseason action after claiming a pair of titles last week.

The Indians opened the week Tuesday with a 3-0 sweep of Grinnell in Little Hawkeye Conference action (25-10, 25-17, 25-16). The win secured a share of the LHC regular season crown, the program’s second in the last three seasons.

Oskaloosa then returned to Grinnell Thursday to compete in the LHC Tournament, entering as the #1 seed after winning a tiebreaker (set winning percentage) against Pella and Indianola.

The tournament began with pool play as OHS met #8 seed Newton in the first round and defeated the Cardinals 2-0 (21-6, 21-5). The Indians then faced off with #5 seed Dallas Center-Grimes, again winning 2-0 (21-8, 21-17), and concluded pool play by slipping by Norwalk 2-1 (11-21, 21-14, 15-7).

With its 3-0 record, Oskaloosa earned a spot in the championship bout versus Pella. The Indians came out on top 2-1 over the Dutch (25-22, 19-25, 15-7) to post the sweep of league titles.

The tournament championship is the first for the program since the tournament event began in 2016.

Oskaloosa 3, Grinnell 0

Oskaloosa, which dominated the Tigers by hitting .317, was led by 21 kills from Faith DeRonde on a .395 attack clip. Maleah Walker, with six, and Aubree Blanco, with five, also contributed in the victory.

Olivia Gordon headed the setting duo with 22 assists, while Presley Blommers added seven more helpers. Gordon was also the Indians’ top server with three aces; Walker produced two more.

DeRonde’s seven digs were a squad high, while Gordon and Macie Krier both notched six. The pair of Blanco and Ebelsheiser each tallied three block assists to guide the defensive net presence.

“I was pleased with our team being ready to compete from the first serve against Grinnell,” Head Coach Jennifer Comfort said. “It was something we emphasized and the athletes met our expectations. We also worked at other things we know we need to have as strengths as we now move into post-season play against high competition. I thought we made great effort in those areas and showed improvement.”

LHC Tournament

DeRonde headlined the Indian attack with 46 kills on a .280 attack clip. Walker was also in double digits with 23 winners, while Blanco narrowly missed the mark with nine on a team-best .350 attack mark. Ebelsheiser, with six, and Thompson, with five, also contributed offensively.

Gordon ‘quarterbacked’ the offense with 46 assists, while Blommers helped 26 times. Roach posted the best serving numbers with eight aces, while DeRonde and Gordon both added six and Walker finished with five.

Defensively, the quartet of DeRonde, Walker, Roach, and Krier all ended the tournament with 20 digs, while Thompson topped the net efforts as she was part of five blocks. Ebelsheiser was next with four blocks and Blanco managed three.

“I am very proud of how we played during the tournament,” Comfort said. “We knew this was a big night for us. The ladies were focused, ready to play, and their eyes were on the championship from the start. We avenged last year’s finals loss to Pella and also set ourselves up for home-court advantage for regionals.”

“I have been challenging our players to be relentless on defense and effective on offense and that was a big improvement and a reason why we dominated most of the matches,” Comfort added. “We are peaking at the right time. A big thank you to all the fans cheering us on in Grinnell and at home. We have felt the support and encouragement all season and hope to continue to receive that support in our run to winning a green banner and qualifying for the state tournament.”

Next Up: Oskaloosa will return to Oskaloosa Thursday to host the winner of Tuesday’s Fairfield/Mount Pleasant match in the regional semifinals at 7 p.m.

Posted by on Oct 20 2021. Filed under Local News, School Activities. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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