NEW LONDON — And then there were 16, with New London in a familiar spot as one of the regional finalists.

New London defeated Winfield-Mount Union 27-25, 25-16, 23-25, 25-9 on Thursday night at Charles Lorber Gymnasium in a Class 1A regional semifinal.

New London (28-9) will meet Montezuma in Tuesday's Region 7 final in Ottumwa with a trip to the state tournament in Cedar Rapids on the line. Montezuma, ranked No. 7 in Class 1A, swept Lynnville-Sully in the other semifinal.

New London withstood an early barrage from the upstart Wolves, who raced out to a quick 9-4 advantage in the opening game, serving notice that the Tigers, listed No. 10 in the final Class 1A rankings, would have to earn this victory. Chipping away at the Wolves’ advantage with Kaylor Schulte kills and pinpoint kills from Peyton Jackson, the Tigers found themselves knotted at 13-13.

The Wolves (15-15) exchanged points for the remainder of the first game, but could never pull away. A few nervous hits and few miscues and the Tigers claimed a emotion-packed and tension-filled win in the opening set.

“It was crucial to win that first game,” New London coach Maureen Heath said. “It was big to go up 1-0.”

The Tigers then hit on all cylinders in the second game.

“I don’t think Winfield-Mount Union did anything different, but we did play much better offensively," Heath said.

Addie Pry led New London with 15 kills and was a defensive stalwart in the back row with 11 digs. She was also 19-of-19 serving with an ace. Pry said the getting off to a quick start was going to be instrumental.

“It was very important to win the first game,” Pry said. “We set the tone for the rest of the night. I think I was able to play with more confidence during the second game and I just tried to stay as aggressive as I could.”

However, Winfield-Mount Union was not about to be swept.

The Tigers squelched any Winfield-Mount Union upset bid after the Wolves took the third game, delivering the knockout punch.

“The third game is always the hardest to win,” New London senior libero Chloe Coleman said. “They didn’t have anything to lose and they could swing away and go for lines.”

New London and Winfield-Mount Union had squared off only once this season, with New London prevailing 2-1 in a mid-season tournament. Led all season by an assortment of scrappy seniors, the Tigers knew their final game at home would be difficult, but their ability to counter punch any Winfield attack ultimately decided the final outcome.

Winfield-Mount Union coach Dave Pieart knew his team had a chance against New London, and a win in the first game may have led to a trip to Ottumwa for themselves.

“It sure would have been different” Pieart said. “We showed a little bit of nerves. And they were more consistent than we were.”

We’ve played teams like this before and New London has a better offense than we have,” Pieart said. “They have consistency all across the front. They are well-coached, consistent and combine that with a defense that digs everything up, it makes them tough.”

Winfield-Mount Union was paced by Jenna Buffington, who had 15 kills. Heath cited Buffington as one of the reasons the Tigers lost the third game. Buffington also led the Wolves with 29 digs.

It was a bittersweet victory for Coleman, playing in her final home match.

“I feel honored that I was able to play for New London,” Coleman said. “I feel grateful for all the support I’ve had."

Coleman paced New London’s defense with 30 digs and 24-of-24 serving, including 3 aces.

Montezuma is a regional finalist from last year and features one of the best athletes in the state in Shateah Wetering, a 6-foot-1 inch junior who has already committed to Iowa for basketball. But there are only 16 teams left at this stage and all of them are good, including the Tigers.

“When you get to a regional final, all things are possible,” Heath said.

WINFIELD-MOUNT UNION

Kills — Jenna Buffington 15, Liana Sweezer 4, Jami Wilkerson 4, Madie Anderson 4, Anna Hudson 3, Kayla Edwards 3.

Assists — Edwards 28, Sabrina Moody 1.

Serving — Wilkerson 14-15 (1 ace), Edwards 9-10 (1 ace), Buffington 9-12 (2 aces), Moody 9-9 (1 ace), Kyndal Townsley 14-19 (5 aces), Carlee Sloan 10-10.

Blocks — Hudson 3, Sweezer 2, Buffington 1, Anderson 1.

Digs — Buffington 29, Wilkerson 15, Townsley 14, Moody 7, Edwards 7, Sloan 5, Sweezer 4, Hudson 1.

NEW LONDON

Kills — Addie Pry 15, Kaylor Schulte 14, Sophie Reighard 5, Peyton Jackson 10, Paris Wilka 4.

Assists — Kristen Rohdy 43.

Serving — Pry 19-19 (1 ace), Alexis Wenger 13-13 (2 aces), Sophie Lounsbury 11-12 (1 ace), Rohdy 15-17 (1 ace), Chloe Coleman 24-24 (3 aces), Clara Cooper 9-10.

Blocks — None.

Digs — Pry 11, Wenger 11, Schulte 9, Coleman 30, Kyra Linkin 9, Reighard 10.