Tough schedule has Hinton primed for state tournament

Monday, October 31, 2022

HINTON — Further research has led to discover that Hinton’s Class 2A state tournament bound volleyball team has a 10-2 record against teams that were ranked in the final IGHSAU rankings, not 7-2 as was previously listed in a recent article about last Wednesday’s 25-21, 25-21, 25-14 win in the Region 2 finals over 15th-ranked Ridge View.

Hinton hopes that playing a tough schedule will have prepared them for the state tournament.

“We played tournaments at Le Mars and East where we beat the bigger 4A and 5A schools which is crazy for a small 2A school,” said Hinton co-head coach Kate Ortegren of the fourth-seeded Blackhawks (26-2), who will face fifth-seeded Denver (36-10) at 4 p.m. Tuesday in a first-round match at Xtream Arena in Coralville.

“We beat Dakota Valley (the No. 2 ranked team in South Dakota’s mid-sized school class). At East, we went 6-0 and beat ranked Sioux City teams Heelan and North along with Lewis Central and Council Bluffs AL.”

Success at East was a defining part of the season for Hinton, which at that point was the state’s only undefeated team at 16-0. War Eagle Conference victories over Akron-Westfield and Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn followed before perennial WEC champion Unity Christian swept the Blackhawks in Orange City.

Hinton then competed at the Western Christian Tournament where a 3-1 record included a win over No. 4 (2A) Denver and a loss to No. 1 (3A) Des Moines Christian. Despite the loss, Hinton rose three notches from seventh to fourth in the final 2A state rankings.

“We lost to Des Moines Christian, but we battled,” said Ortegren. “These games have given the girls a lot of hope and confidence to know they can play against the big dogs.”

Hinton returned six athletes from last year’s 20-8 team that fell to Western Christian in the Class 2A Region 2 semifinals – 6-foot junior setter/right side hitter Ashlyn Kovarna (713 assists, 80 kills), 5-9 junior outside hitter Carlene Hicklin (149 kills), 5-8 junior outside hitter Gabbie Friessen (144 kills), 5-10 junior middle hitter Avery Burgad (104 kills), 5-4 senior libero Aubree Lake (163 digs) and 5-2 junior defensive specialist Belle DeRocher (91 digs).

Bailey Boeve, a 5-11 freshman middle/outside hitter, leads Hinton with 300 kills and 168 blocks. She has had only nine matches where she has been held under 10 kills, with most of those being weekend tournament matches which only went two sets.

“Yes,” answered Hicklin when asked if she felt Boeve would provide such an impact as a freshman.

“I knew from her club seasons that she is an amazing hitter,” she added. “She is the most humble girl. We all have each other’s backs no matter what. We play like a family. We love each other, no matter if we make a mistake or not. We pick each other up. That is a big key to success for us.”

Hinton and Denver will each mark their third state tournament.

The two teams have something in common, as both were conference second-place teams, Denver in the Central Division of the North Iowa Cedar League, where 2A No. 1 seeded Dike-New Hartford went 4-0, beating Denver by one match.

Denver will be led by Kayla Knowles, a 6-foot senior who ranked second in the entire state with 618 kills. Channing Johnson, a 5-8 freshman setter, leads the state with 1,177 assists.

“Our girls have so much heart and so much talent, I don’t see them folding right away,” said Ortegren. “I see them going there and getting ready to fight. I think we will battle down there and make it to the end. We are going to work really hard to get to that point.”

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