Sports, Thursday, October 29th

Written by Nathan Bloechl on October 29, 2020

By: Nathan Bloechl — sports@kilj.com 

No Trick, All Treat: Nikes Roll to State Tournament

Notre Dame started fast and finished faster as the No. 14 Nikes swept their way to the Class 1A State Volleyball Tournament, with a 3-0 win over WACO last night.

The win earmarked Notre Dame for their first ever trip to the Alliant Energy Power House in Cedar Rapids.

Notre Dame started fast behind set one attacks from outside hitter Katy Stephens, who was in full command all night long for the Nikes.

Stephens led the Nikes with 17 kills, while junior Josie Bentz finished with 12.

Her twin sister Jenna Bentz provided sublime service all night finishing with 31 assists, a game-high.

Notre Dame, who took set one 25-22 and set 25-18, found themselves in a hole in set three with WACO leading by as much as 8-5.

After that, the Nikes went cascading on an 11-0 run to grab a 16-8 lead.

The turnaround was sparked by libero Karli Artman, who was a menace at the service line during the Nike run.

For the second consecutive contest sophomore middle hitter Gabby Deery was outstanding defensively, provide five blocks while Maisey Belger added four.

The combination of the Bentz twins, Stephens, Deery and the rest of the Notre Dame supporting cast has them believing some magic could occur at the State Tournament, this year.

WACO was led by senior hitter Morgan Graber who finished with a team-high 13 kills.

Sophomore setter Grace Coble ended with 25 assists, while First Team All-SEISC South Division libero Aubrey Garsney paced the WACO defense with a game-high 19 digs.

Notre Dame improved to 17-5, while WACO ended their season 26-8.

We’ll set the State Tournament matchups shortly.

How About Those Tigers? New London Headed Back to Cedar Rapids

For the first time in six years Maureen Heath and her New London Tiger volleyball team is heading back to the Class 1A State Volleyball Tournament.

The No. 11 Tigers rolled to 25-18, 25-22 and 26-24 wins over No. 5 Southeast Warren at Ottumwa Middle School to punch their ticket to the Alliant Energy Power House.

New London welcomed back terrific senior Sofie Reighard, who sat out during a brief quarantine — just par for the course in this bizarre 2020 — but the do-it-all star finished with seven kills, four blocks and six digs.

Her return added just another chess piece for New London’s balanced, albeit well-oiled offensive attack.

Reighard, Marah Hartrick, Natalie Burden and Keaura Williams all finished with seven kills while Sophie Malott ended with six.

Elly Manning and Aliyah Christensen both went double-figures on assists with 14 and 13 respectively, while Kyra Linkin provided her usual production in the back row leading the way with 19 digs.

With the win in tow, Heath has now taken eight programs to state in her 20-year coaching career in New London, cementing herself among, not only the top coaches in Class 1A, but all classes statewide.

The win improved New London to 22-7.

Southeast Warren, the undefeated champion of the Pride of Iowa Conference, ends their season with a tally of 25-1.

IGHSAU Releases Class 1A/2A State Volleyball Pairings:

The Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union has released their 2020 Class 1A and 2A State Volleyball pairings:

Class 1A:

No. 1 Janesville vs. No. 8 Council Bluffs St. Albert — Tuesday, November 3rd (5:30 p.m.)

No. 4 Gladbrook-Reinbeck vs. No. 5 Springville — Tuesday, November 3rd (8:00 p.m.)

No. 2 Wapsie Valley vs. No. 7 Burlington Notre Dame — Tuesday, November 3rd (5:30 p.m.)

No. 3 Gehlen Catholic vs. No. 6 New London — Tuesday, November 3rd (8:00 p.m.)

Class 2A:

No. 1 Western Christian vs. No. 8 South Hardin — Tuesday, November 3rd (12:30 p.m.)

No. 4 Boyden-Hull vs. No. 5 Denver — Tuesday, November 3rd (3:00 p.m.)

No. 2 Wilton vs. No. 7 Van Meter — Tuesday November 3rd (12:30 p.m.)

No. 3 Dike-New Hartford vs. No. 6 Sumner-Fredericksburg (3:00 p.m.)

Notre Dame and New London games can be heard on KILJ-FM 105.5 and online at kilj.com.

Wisconsin-Nebraska Banged This Weekend, B1G Scrambling

The Wisconsin football team is pausing activities due to an elevated number of COVID-19 cases and as a result their game at Nebraska on Saturday has been canceled and is being listed as a “no contest”

Quarterback Graham Mertz, who fired five touchdowns against Illinois, reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week and reports surfaced yesterday that an outbreak on the team might lead to a cancellation of the game.

A positivity rate above 5% in a program over a seven-day period would require a shutdown under Big Ten restrictions.

Nebraska is next scheduled to play Northwestern on Saturday, November 7th at 11:00 AM.

It’s unknown when Wisconsin can next take the gridiron.

So far so good for the Hawkeyes, who will host Northwestern this Saturday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. at Kinnick Stadium.