Hinton defeats Ridge View, advances to state tourney

Thursday, November 7, 2013
(Sentinel Photo by Douglas Clark) The Hinton Blackhawks celebrate after their thrilling 3-0 victory over Ridge View in Wednesday's regional final in Sioux City.

SIOUX CITY -- The Hinton Blackhawks are returning to the state volleyball tournament for the first time since 2005 by virtue of their thrilling victory over the Ridge View Raptors in Wednesday night's Class 2A regional final at Bishop Heelan High School.

"It's quite an honor to have an opportunity to play for a state championship," said Hinton coach Jodi Cook. "I'm very proud of our girls and happy for them. We met our first goal, which was to make it to the state tournament. We talked all season long about starting strong and finishing stronger. The girls have taken that to heart and now we have a chance to really put that into action against the best competition the state has to offer. It was truly a total team effort."

Hinton got off to a roaring start in the first game, jumping out to an early 6-0 lead fueled by stellar defense from Christina Stuerman and Kailey Burke, who delivered a series of momentum-building blocks that stymied a variety of Ridge View kill attempts.

(Sentinel Photo by Douglas Clark) Senior Lauren Hedlund (3) leaps high for a block.

Just as the Raptors were beginning to mount a measure of resistance midway through the first game, Kasey Reuter made her presence felt, executing a trio of kills shots that propelled Hinton to a 9-0 run that increased the Blackhawks' lead from 16-10 to a game-capturing 25-10 result.

The second game was truly of the survival of the fittest variety, with Hinton outlasting Ridge View 31-29 in an emotion-charged, marathon effort that tested the mettle of the players and fans alike.

The teams exchanged points early, until Hinton used two kills by Reuter and one kill each from Stuerman and Lauren Hedlund to craft a 4-0 run and take a 12-7 lead. The furious point exchange continued until the teams were even at 21-21.

With neither team able to secure a game point later in the matchup, seven ties ensued. With the score knotted at 29-29, the Blackhawks were able to stave off the Raptors long enough to get the final two points on kills from Reuter and Hedlund to move one step closer to punching a ticket to Cedar Rapids.

Cook said the result of the second game placed her team at a crossroads, because there was still work yet to be done in order to advance to Cedar Rapids.

"That (second) game was pretty intense, just from the mere fact it was team mistakes that generated points," she said. "There was a great deal of intensity involved with both teams trying to finish plays. It was point-for-point from the beginning to the end. At the conclusion of the game I reminded our kids it was not over and we still had another 25 points to earn. I'm very proud of the way they accepted the challenge and finished."

(Sentinel Photo by Douglas Clark) Hinton's Kasey Reuter (6) rockets a kill over the net.

Cook said her team is excited about advancing to state tournament play.

"From this point forward, with each team we play, we're upping the ante," she said. "We're very honored to compete for a state title. Now we will go back to working on our game, while maintaining our focus on finishing strong. Our enthusiasm level is high and we're looking forward to the challenge."

Fighting for its postseason life, Ridge View fought valiantly in the third game, but Hinton's senior quartet of Hedlund, Reuter, Tori Bishop and Brylee Schindel fired off a series of kills that allowed the Blackhawks to put away the third game by a 25-22 margin and get the celebration underway.

Reuter led the Blackhawks with 11 kills while compiling 20 digs. Hedlund recorded nine kills and 15 digs to go along with six block assists and 9-9 serving. Bishop had six kills, 19 digs, four block assists and was 18-21 serving with a team-high five aces. Schindel had a team-leading 19 assists to pair with nine digs and two aces on 18-29 serving while Stuerman had four kills, 15 digs, one block assist and was a perfect 10-10 from the service box. Kailey Burke had three kills, two digs and a block assist and Abby Cook recorded eight assists, six digs and six block assists while serving 7-9. Tori Clausen had a kill, two assists, four digs and one block assist.

The Blackhawks will begin their quest for the state championship Nov. 13 against Sumner-Fredericksburg in quarterfinal play at U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids.

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