WILLIAMSBURG, Iowa — Tipton left little doubt which team was advancing to next week’s state volleyball tournament on Monday in the Class 3A Region 8 title game.
The eighth-ranked Tigers may have fallen behind briefly in the first set, but after that they dominated to defeat Davis County by scores of 25-14, 25-18 and 25-11 and earn their first-ever trip to state.
As expected sophomore Sommer Daniel led the way with 11 kills, 15 assists and 13 digs. But she had plenty of help on a team that clearly plays together and plays together well.
Blake Ehler added eight kills and 12 digs; Amanda Smith contributed 16 assists and one block and Kamryn Chapman had three blocks and four aces.
When Daniel wasn’t smashing an unreturnable kill, she was assisting teammates such as Ehler and others. On long volleys, the Tigers hustled and dove, getting the ball back to a teammate, keeping it in play for a point later in the volley.
But it clearly was a team that was on a mission.
“It’s amazing,” Daniel said when the team came back out on the floor after a brief trip to the locker room following the game. “Tipton’s never gone to state before. For this being the first time, it’s really exciting.
“The whole season we knew we could do this. We always knew we were capable of this.”
Daniel said she had plenty of help from her teammates.
“Oh, yeah, we are very young,” she said of the team that has only one senior. “We are really close. We jell really well.
“From the beginning of the season, this has always been a goal for us.”
Getting to state meant everything.
“It’s always been a goal for us,” said Chapman, another sophomore. “We’ve been working so hard, carrying on from last year. It’s just really fun to see everybody come together on the team.
“We have a lot of good players on our team,” she added. “Everybody gets excited for everybody.”
Coach Amy Calonder agreed that although the team has a star in Daniel, it has a lot more.
“Our team is just that — a team,” she said. “Sommer’s an outstanding player, but we have a lot around her.”
The goal coming in was for the Tigers to just play their game, Calonder said.
“We knew that they struggled a little on defense and serve-receive from what I had seen,'' she said. "So just (the plan was) to clean up those things and take care of our game.”
In her 15th year as coach, Calonder was thrilled to finally be going to next week’s state tourney.
“It’s pretty awesome,” she said. “These girls were right on the cusp of it last year, too. They worked hard in the off-season. When we got together starting in June, it was like they had never taken time off from each other.
“They are good volleyball players, but they also have really good heads on their shoulders. They’re a good group.”