BY GREG FLINT
---- — CISSNA PARK - It took three games, but the Schlarman Academy volleyball team won the Cissna Park regional title, defeating the host Timberwolves 25-18, 19-25, 25-12.
Schlarman came out ready to play and jumped out to an early lead in game one 8-3, taking advantage of some Timberwolf miscues from the service line.
The Timberwolves never really managed to threaten in the remainder of game one and the Hilltoppers cruised to the 25-18 win.
Game two was totally different as Cissna Park came out strong and took the early lead. Schlarman tried to cut the margin, pulling within two, but then a strong series of servers helped the Timberwolves run away with the game.
“I don’t know who that was out there,” said Crane about her team in the second game. “We certainly didn’t play our game.”
She explained further, “We sort of relaxed. Well, relaxed isn’t the right word. We just weren’t aggressive and they took advantage.”
Crane said she spoke to the team before game three.
“I told them to go out there and be the team they are,” she said. “I said go out and play the kind of game you know how to play.”
Her team got the message, going up 7- and eventually 11-5 - forcing a Cissna Park time out. The break slowed the Schlarman momentum for a time, but the Hilltoppers returned to the aggressive play their coach wanted.
The visitors continued to expand their lead, doubling up on their opponents at 22-11 as they went on to win 25-12.
“That third game was more like what I expect,” said Crane. “You could see the difference.”
Hilltopper coach Heidi Crane said she likes to get her team to the site of the contests early so they have time to warm up.
This will be particularly useful when they compete at Woodland in sectional play as that site is about three hours away according to Crane.
She was asked what her team needed to do to continue their run and she said, smiling, “Have no more game two’s.”
Speaking seriously of the regional, Crane said, “We will adjust to whoever we play, but what we want to do is keep our offense moving quickly. When we’re playing too much defense, that’s not good.”
One player for the Hilltoppers who had an impact was Joslyn Dietzen whose serve triggered some good runs.
Crane gave credit to Dietzen, saying, “She has made some long runs several times this year for us” but also said the rotation was a factor.
“It’s about 50-50,” she said. “When we have the right hitters up there and they are hitting, not tipping like in game 2, then we’re pretty effective.”
Crane said that her team feels some pressure to continue to do well after the run the team made last year, but then she added, “We will take it one game at a time. We’re not going to look ahead. We’re just going to prepare to play our game.”
Greg Flint is a freelance writer/photographer for the Commercial-News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org