LAKE MILLS, Iowa - The Class 2A, No. 12-ranked Lake Mills volleyball team wasn't quite in top form while handing St. Ansgar a loss in regional play on Tuesday, so the Bulldogs looked to bounce back Friday night.
Lake Mills blasted by the North Union Warriors in Class 2A, Region 1 semifinal action, winning 25-15, 25-18, 25-14 in Lake Mills.
"We were definitely rusty on Tuesday when we played our first match," said Lake Mills head coach Jim Boehmer. "These were not the same girls out here on the court tonight at all. The girls got here early, and they were fired up. It was great to see them play well."
The Bulldogs (35-5) advance to face Western Christian (41-2) at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Milford, Iowa.
North Union finishes its season with an 18-23 overall record.
Leading the pack for the Bulldogs was senior setter Brooke Hagen, who distributed 31 set assists in addition to dispensing six kills.
After the Bulldogs finished off a Game 1 win, 25-15, on one of Hagen's kills, she turned around and assisted Morgan Christenson on one of her nine kills to put Lake Mills up 1-0 in Game 2.
Warrior sophomore Sarah Rolling flipped an Aurora Oliver set over the net for a tip to even the game before two Bulldog errors gave North Union its first lead at 3-1.
Madison Shifflett, who also had nine kills, smashed a Hagen set cross court to keep the Bulldogs within one. A Warrior passing error evened the game at 3-3.
With the game tied at 4-4, Emily Hagebock and Oliver, who each tallied two blocks in the match, combined to deny a Shifflett attack to give the Warriors the 5-4 edge.
Both teams battled and traded points, with Rolling, who had seven kills in the match, launching two hard attacks at the Bulldogs before Christenson sent a swing wide to even the score for the sixth of nine times in the second game.
Warrior senior Jordan Guerdet sizzled on of her two ace serves to give the Warriors a 9-8 edge, but the Bulldogs evened it right back when Hagen connected with Rachel Segura for one of her nine kills.
"Hagen is a great asset to our offense," Boehmer said. "That left hand of hers makes the other team's blockers have to respect her, and that provides opportunities for our offense."
The Bulldog offense did not slow down through the middle of Game 2, with Hagen crushing a floater to the floor with her left hand to put Lake Mills up 13-11.
Oliver, who finished with four kills for the Warriors, responded by powering one of Ashley Olson's 11 set assists through a Bulldog double block to make it 13-12.
Just when Lake Mills needed it, though, Hagen went to Christenson for four straight kills, giving the Bulldogs a 21-15 lead late in the game.
Christenson then followed up a Warrior serve into the net with an ace to make it 23-16.
Hagen sealed the game with another tip, giving her team the 25-18 win.
In Game 3 the Bulldogs came out hungry to finish the match and took a quick 5-0 lead, thanks to a pair of Christenson and Segura kills, along with a Sarah Orban ace serve.
"We had really good practices Wednesday and Thursday and I think even though we were playing well before, that helped us get ready for tonight," Boehmer said. "We played well and everything seemed to be clicking for us, which was good to see."
Lake Mills held off the surging Warriors at the end, winning 25-14.