ANAMOSA, Iowa — No matter where Assumption wanted to attack, it seemed like a Dyersville Beckman player was there.
The Class 3A No. 7 Knights fell to a tenacious ninth-ranked Blazer team 3-1 Monday at Anamosa High School, falling one match short of a return trip to state.
It was a rematch of last year's Class 3A regional final, which Assumption won in five sets.
"They were a good team and they wanted it really bad and there were a couple of plays we didn't do as well as they should have. They were really scrappy and they had some great defense," senior Lindsay Stratman said. "We tried to hit where they're not but they came flying out of these random spots and got crazy balls up. Props to them."
Assumption came roaring out of the gate, taking a 4-0 lead in the first set but couldn't maintain the momentum, losing the first set 25-17.
The Knights seemed a little shaky at times, with some errors that helped the Blazers (31-12) take control of that early momentum, especially in front of a particularly raucous Beckman student section.
"I think a lot of it was chalked down to nerves," Assumption head coach Bre Scherler said. "We had some nerves and you could kind of see that. We had a great explosive start but I kind of told them we were stuck in a rattled cage, that we were living off that emotion for a while and we just needed to settle down and play mature volleyball."
The Knights did a much better job of that in the second set, rolling out to a 15-8 lead and facing a set point at 24-16.
Beckman rallied to cut the lead to 24-20 but a net violation gave Assumption (25-9) the second set win.
That late rally was a sign of things to come however, as the Blazers once again rallied in the third set, going on a 6-0 run to take a 14-10 lead after falling behind 10-8.
"That was huge. I kind of told the girls at the end of Game 2 we had the momentum now, let's build on it," Beckman head coach Todd Troutman said. "We just kept going back and forth and then we go on that little stretch in Game 3 and then Game 4 was just a battle."
The fourth set was a battle, with neither team getting a lead larger than three points in the set. Beckman reached set point at 24-21 but Assumption tried to put together one last rally, cutting the score to 24-22 before Ellie Bildstein's kill ended the match.
"It feels amazing," junior Isabelle Bennett said. "It took me a minute to realize what happened but once I realized it was down and everyone was jumping it was just the best feeling ever."
Bennett had six kills in the match and the Blazer defense was led by Sydney Arens, who had 12 digs. Assumption was led by Stratman, who had 12 kills and also got contributions from Carly King, who had seven kills and seven blocks. Lea Nelson had 20 assists and Anna Corlett had 22 digs.
It's a tough end to the season for the Knights and for a senior class that helped Assumption reach the state tournament for the first time since 2013 last year.
"A ton accomplished," Scherler said. "The outcome is not what we expected or wanted but I told them, 'We're going to walk out of here with our heads held high.'"
Beckman Catholic 25-20-25-25, Assumption 17-25-19-22
Kills -- Assumption, Lindsay Stratman 12, Carly King 7, Anna Vonderhaar 6; Beckman, Caroline Kluesner 7, Isabelle Bennett 6, Morgan Funke 5. Assists -- Assumption, Lea Nelson 20, Lauren Dilulio 14; Beckman, Sydney Steffen 22. Aces -- Assumption, Emma VanSeveren 2, King, Kylie Welch, Anna Corlett; Beckman, Steffen 3, Kluesner. Digs -- Assumption, Corlett 22, Nelson 14, Welch 8; Beckman, Sydney Arens 12, Brooke Lucas 8, Heather Boeckenstedt 8. Blocks -- Assumption, King 7, Vonderhaar 5, Maddy Mayeski 4; Beckman, Ellie Bildstein 3, Kluesner 2, Boeckenstedt
Records -- Beckman 31-12; Assumption 25-9 (final)