AFTON — The Interstate 35 volleyball team nearly pulled off a major upset of Class 1A No. 11 ranked-Bedford here on Oct. 9 in the Pride of Iowa Conference semifinals, falling to the Bulldogs, 25-17, 21-25, 11-25, 25-20, 10-15.
The Roadrunners jumped out to an early lead in the fifth and deciding set before Bedford’s attack proved to be too much.
“They’ve done that on occasion, where they’ve prepared for the tough opponent,” Interstate 35 head coach Tim McKinney said. “They were thrilled to get here on the second night. We didn’t play our best (Oct. 8). I gave them the morning off and they came prepared. They played better, and I was very pleased.”
The Roadrunners took a commanding early lead in the first set, on its way to cruising to a 25-17 win in the set. Interstate 35 and Bedford went back-and-forth in the second second set before Bedford pulled away late in the set.
After Bedford rolled in the third set, Interstate 35 dug deep and pulled out another win in the fourth set, forcing a fifth set.
“I didn’t think Bedford served as tough as I was expecting them to,” McKinney said. “So we were able to pass a little better, and we got our right side attack going. That seemed to hurt them.”
Seniors Rachael Wiggins and Ellen Lupkes led the team in kills with 11 and nine, respectively. Wiggins also racked up five block assists to go with one solo block.
Jenna Sandquist and Jordan Williamson each contributed two block assists, while Sandquist added 16 assists.
Lupkes also served six aces on 16-of-17 serving for the match. Williamson finished with three aces on 16-17 serving, and Brooke Brommel had three aces on 17-17 serving.
Sandquist and Wiggins each had two aces while Abby Boyer finished with one. Boyer also had three kills. Williamson had a team-high eight digs.
After the upset bid against Bedford fell short, the Roadrunners moved on to the third-place match against Martensdale-St. Marys. The Blue Devils knocked off the Roadrunners in three straight sets, 25-18, 25-20, 25-20.
“Unfortunately, we had to go five (against Bedford), so that fatigued us a little bit,” McKinney said. “I told them in the huddle, we’re not going to make excuses. It’s hot, they’re hot. We’re fatigued, they’re fatigued. We’re going to play the volleyball we know how to play. In the gym it kind of showed. Bedford went three-and-out, we went three-and-out.”
Class 1A No. 10-ranked East Union swept Bedford in three straight sets in the championship match.
Wiggins and Lupkes once again led the team in kills with eight and seven, respectively. Boyer finished with five kills.
Wiggins also had a team-high six digs, while Brommel, Sandquist and Williamson each added four. Sandquist finished with 17 assists.
Lupkes and Wiggins each had three block assists, while Williamson and Brommel each had two. Lupkes also finished with eight aces on 8-8 serving. Jessica Deuel served 3-3 with three aces.
“Martensdale served all right,” McKinney said. “Our passes went to the 10-foot line and we were kind of scrambling with our attack. I tried to switch the defense there a little bit, and it kind of threw them off because they hadn’t seen it much. I thought they responded well. We were picking up some of the tips they were doing. We were a little fatigued, and we didn’t get our attack going like we can. That was probably the difference because we were a little weak in the legs.”
Interstate 35 defeated Central Decatur 2-0 and Nodaway Valley 2-1 on Oct. 8 to advance to the semifinal round of the Pride of Iowa Conference Tournament.
The Roadrunners host Clarke in the first round of regional action at 7 p.m. on Monday.