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Bulldogs oust Warriors in Iowa regional volleyball action

TIP-TOP TAP — North Union hitter Anna Longhenry (12) taps a tip off the top of a double-block set by Lake Mills defenders Megan Groe (middle left) and Jessa Gasteiger (11) during Iowa Class 2A, Region 2 quarterfinal volleyball action Monday night in Lake Mills, Iowa. North Union’s May Laverty (17) and Chloe Lofstrom (11) watch the action. (Photo by Greg Abel)

LAKE MILLS, Iowa — When Lake Mills head volleyball coach Jim Boehmer referred to his Bulldogs as “a good serving” team Monday night, he was being modest.

Jessa Gasteiger, MaKenna Hanson and Megan Groe combined to generate 42 points, including eight of Lake Mills’ 11 aces, to help the Bulldogs collar the North Union Warriors, 25-7, 25-7, 25-10, during Iowa Class 2A, Region 2 quarterfinal action in Lake Mills.

Lake Mills (30-9) advances to face Class 2A No. 5-ranked Osage (34-6) in a 7 p.m. regional semifinal clash Thursday night in Osage, Iowa. Osage swept Central Springs (21-13) in three consecutive games during quarterfinal action Monday night.

Despite producing the program’s 16th straight 30-win season, Boehmer does not rest on his laurels as he’s always trying to create the most productive lineup on the hardwood court every time out.

“Tonight was the first time we had played that lineup this season,” said Boehmer, whose rotation connected on 71 of 74 serves for an accuracy rate of .959 during the three-game sweep. “We moved a sophomore (Brooke Bergo) to the left side and moved a senior hitter (Olivia Moen) to the right outside, and it worked well.

“It’s nice to have players who are willing to make adjustments for the sake of the team. It’s a ‘we over me’ philosophy.”

After senior hitter Chloe Lofstrom blocked a Lake Mills’ attack to inch North Union within 5-4 in Game 1, Gasteiger and Hanson utilized their highly-efficent serving skills to help the Bulldogs run away with an 18-point margin of victory.

Gasteiger, who produced a match-best 16 points — including five aces — on 18-for-19 serving, assembled a nine-point scoring string on the strength of her running jump-serve.

“Jenna really was hitting her spots (with her serve) tonight,” Boehmer said in reference to Gasteiger, who entered the playoff clash with a team-best 87 service aces.

The junior hitting tandem of Kylie Greenfield and Summer Sterrenberg delivered one kill apiece off utility set assists from Moen to highlight the run that extended the Bulldogs’ margin to 15-4.

Four points later, a North Union errant serve allowed Hanson to enter the opening game as Lake Mills’ libero and the junior defensive specialist served out the final eight points of Game 1. Hanson, a .947 server entering the match, proved 16 of 16 at the end line with 14 points.

Groe, who also went 16 of 16 serving with a dozen points, and Bergo pounded down two kills each to engineer the Bulldogs’ run.

Groe then displayed her serving skills to open Game 2, reeling off four in a row behind Sterrenberg’s pair of kills off two of Gasteiger’s match-best 21 set assists for a quick 5-0 lead.

Abby Deitering converted a Lily Henderson set assist for a sideout kill for the Warriors before Henderson rotated to the end line to serve the visitors within 5-3.

Gasteiger, Greenfield and Hanson combined equally to widen the Bulldogs’ lead to 14-5 before Bergo’s down-the-line sideout kill rotated the Lake Mills’ sophomore to the service area. Bergo served out the final seven points for a two-game match lead.

Gasteiger used her hard top-spin serve to reel off five unanswered points to snap a 2-all Game 3 tie before Olivia Von Bank and Lofstrom combined for a sideout block for North Union.

Ella Hagebock tallied back-to-back service points to close the gap to 9-6, but a Warriors’ hitting error placed the serve in Hanson’s capable hands. Hanson built a 14-6 lead before Lofstrom’s power tip sliced the deficit to seven.

Despite May Laverty’s two kills down the stretch, Groe nearly served out Game 3 with a five-point string before a Bulldogs’ spiking error extended the match by one point that Greenfield delivered with an exclamation mark.

Greenfield produced a match-best 10 kills for Lake Mills, Sterrenberg delivered seven, Groe pounded six and Bergo chipped in five.

Henderson doled out six set assists for the Warriors (3-24), while Anna Longhenry and Deitering tallied three kills apiece.

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