Nevada wins thriller over Ballard in 3A regional quarterfinals: Cubs prevail in five sets

Joe Randleman
Ames Tribune
The Nevada volleyball team celebrates after winning the rally game of its Class 3A regional quarterfinal match with Ballard Monday at the Nevada High School Field House.

The Nevada volleyball team won an exciting five-set thriller over Ballard in the Class 3A regional quarterfinals Monday at the Nevada High School Field House.

The victory over the Bombers put the Cubs at 20-21 on the season. They ended the regular season by sweeping Perry, 25-14, 25-17 and 25-18, Oct. 14 at Perry to finish second in the Heart of Iowa Conference with a 5-1 conference record.

Nevada also went 1-2 at a quadrangular in Dike Oct. 12. The Cubs swept Union (25-20, 25-22) and fell to a Waverly-Shell Rock team rated third in 4A (25-20, 25-20) and a Dike-New Hartford team rated No. 1 in 2A (25-9, 25-5).

Colo-NESCO hosted AGWSR on senior night in Colo Oct. 11. The Royals were swept, 25-14, 25-14, 25-13.

Colo-NESCO also competed at the Iowa Star Conference tournament Friday in Tripoli. The Royals swept Meskwaki (21-16, 21-14) and they fell to Tripoli twice (21-8, 21-8 and 21-12, 21-9), Waterloo Christian (21-15, 21-6) and Clarksville (won the first set, 21-19, and suffered 21-11 and 16-14 losses in the last two).

Here is what we learned from Nevada's big regional win and Colo-NESCO's match against AGWSR:

Hazlitt helps Cubs advance

Ballard won the first set of Monday's regional quarterfinal match, 25-16. Nevada claimed the second set by a 25-17 score then Ballard pulled off a 26-24 victory in the third to set up an exciting finish.

Nevada trailed 22-20 in the fourth set. But a Ballard violation turned the tide as the Cubs followed with four consecutive points to finish off a 25-21 victory and force a rally game.

The Cubs fell behind 3-1 early in the rally game. But then they went on an 11-3 run to take charge. 

Needing only three more points to finish off the Bombers, Nevada middle blocker Shelbi Hazlitt took charge, coming up with a tip followed by two big swings for three clutch kills to push the Cubs into the semifinals with a 15-9 victory. 

Middle blocker Shelbi Hazlitt came up with three clutch kills to close out a 15-9 win in the rally game against Ballard in the 3A regional quarterfinals Monday in Nevada.

"They're a very tough team, so I knew we had to give it our all in order to win that last set," Hazlitt said. "I wasn't very confident in the first couple sets — I was everywhere with my hitting. So just focusing on thumb up, thumb down — not making any errors. Just focusing in on every point." 

Hazlitt had run into trouble going up against 6-2 Ballard middle blocker Brooklyn Baumgardner several times during the match. 

"She scared me a little bit," Hazlitt said. "She's tall." 

But she was determined to find a way past Baumgardner's block and came out with tremendous determination in the rally game. 

"She's a disciplined blocker," Hazlitt said. "I just had to stay disciplined with blocking and hitting."   

Hazlitt said she felt relief when she hammered down those final three kills for the winning points. 

"It felt amazing," Hazlitt said. "I needed that." 

Gibson, Hendricks come through

Nevada setter Mady Gibson not only did a tremendous job running Nevada's attack down the stretch. She was also an effective server despite being at a physical disadvantage.

An injury to her right shoulder has forced her to use an underhand serve. 

"I was kind of embarrassed the first few matches of the season," Gibson said. "But I really grew into it and figured out how to get it in." 

Another young Cub that came up big Monday was freshman libero Dakota Hendricks. Hendricks was bouncing all over the floor getting to balls in the rally game. 

"My goal was to not let anything hit the ground," Hendricks said. "I knew my seniors really wanted it." 

Emma Strottma goes for a kill against Ballard's Ava Ashworth (18) and Brooklyn Baumgardner during Nevada's five-set win over the Bombers in the 3A regional quarterfinals Monday at Nevada.

Senior Maddie Dunham also performed well in her final match at the Nevada High School Field House. Right-side hitter Emma Strottman and outside hitters Mayzi Weig and Lily Goos added some big kills for the Cubs.

Colo-NESCO can't slow Cougars

Colo-NESCO gave up 38 kills and only had 12 in the loss to AGWSR. The Royals had a 4.2 % efficiency rate compared to AGWSR's 25 % performance.

Izabell Voelker

Jenna Hill tallied eight kills and Izabell Voelker 9 assists, five digs and two kills for Colo-NESCO in the loss. Molly Seyller added eight digs and an ace.

Stats weren't available for the Royals' ISC tournament matches at press time.