ELDRIDGE – North Scott High School senior setter Alyssa Atzen brought all of her game for the Lancers on Thursday night against Burlington – and a few laughs as well.
Atzen ran a lightning quick North Scott offense with 19 assists, hustled for seven digs and had long service runs to help the hosts sweep Burlington 25-10, 25-4, 25-10 in a Class 4A regional semifinal at The Pit.
North Scott (29-4) will host Central DeWitt on Tuesday at 7 p.m. for the regional title and a trip to state.
Atzen’s energy and upbeat attitude kept her teammates on their toes, waiting for a kill, and also kept smiles on her teammates faces as well. The one setting error that Atzen made during the match, when her timing was just a little off with hitter Scout Kirshy, was quickly dispatched with a quick high-five with Kirshy – and a joke.
“(Alexis) Richards and I definitely have a lot of fun out there and we try and bring a lot of energy,” Atzen said. “I think if we are out there having a good time, it makes us play better.”
“We always have that next ball mentality when we make a mistake. I try to pick my teammates up.”
North Scott coach Taryn VanEarwage likes the fact that Atzen can be serious when it matters, but also can bust up her team if the situation calls for it.
“I have some goofy kids on my team,” VanEarwage said with a laugh. “She is a very lighthearted kid and she is definitely our comedic relief. But at the same time, she comes through in the big moments and that’s just her. She makes her teammates better in so many ways. I can’t say enough about her energy and everything she brought to the match.”
Atzen added three aces during the match and her two long service runs put away things early for the winners. She served six straight to put North Scott up 12-4 in the opening set and then helped serve the Lancers to an 8-0 lead in the second set. But it was Atzen’s ability to get the ball in position from the back row, along with fellow setter Nora Ralfs, that gave Burlington little chance at the net.
Ralfs, who had 12 assists, and Atzen combined to make just the one mistake in 35 assist attempts.
“We have so many offensive weapons that if we can speed up our tempo a little bit, we can get the other team’s blockers on their heels,” VanEarwage said. “We talk about being consistent all the time and if we can do those little things to run the offense quickly, the big moments will take care of themselves.”
Richards and Ella McLaughlin each had nine kills for the Lancers. Kirshy and Lauren Golinghorst each had five kills while McLaughlin and Grace Graham each had a block.
Richards added 11 digs on defense and Carley Bredar had digs as well for North Scott. Golinghorst, Graham and Richards all chipped in a pair of aces as well.
Adalyn Galbraith had two kills and a block for Burlington (6-29) while Jacqui Workman had four digs for the Grayhounds.
Next up for the Lancers will be a fourth meeting this season with Central DeWitt (17-12). North Scott has not lost a set in the previous three wins. That won’t matter much, according to VanEarwage.
“We have to be ready and everyone is competing for the same thing. The energy will be high and it should be a great atmosphere.”