ATLANTIC, Iowa — Go up strong. Be confident with everything.
Those thoughts were racing through the mind of Red Oak middle hitter Grace Blomstedt as ADM tried to play the ball over the net on the last point of Tuesday’s Class 3-A Region 3 final.
The Tigers — the ones from Red Oak — were on the verge of a state volleyball tournament berth.
Blomstedt said she was begging the ball to cross the net where she was standing.
“I thought about my hands. I thought about my form. We work on it every day in practice,” the sophomore said. “I was thinking, ‘Hit my hands just right, and this will be great.’ ”
The ball did exactly that before falling safely to the floor on match point. The Red Oak student section spilled on to the court with its players perhaps a second later.
“It was surreal,” Blomstedt said. “It hasn’t hit me yet that we’re going to state.”
The No. 9 Tigers (27-6) earned their 11th state berth in the past 18 years by beating unranked ADM (25-11) 25-21, 25-23, 26-24 in a wild three-set match at Atlantic High School.
Red Oak will meet No. 3 MOC-Floyd Valley (30-8) in the 3-A quarterfinals at 1:30 p.m. on Nov. 8, on court two at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena.
Every set Tuesday was tight. A 5-0 run to end the first took Red Oak from two points down to up a set.
A pair of ADM errors, which came after consecutive kills by junior Allison Gottschalk had tied the score at 23-23, were the only difference in the second set. Red Oak had let a 17-11 lead slip away a short time earlier. It then squandered a 16-11 lead before winning the final set.
A kill by ADM’s Torrie Hook pulled those Tigers even at 17-all in the final set. She added the last two of her 12 kills a few points later as ADM went up 21-19.
Makelti White’s ace got Red Oak square at 22-22 before a Red Oak error and a kill by Gottschalk, who had a match-high 13, put ADM within a point of forcing a fourth set.
A hustle play by libero Josie Snyder, however, turned the tide for Red Oak on ADM’s set point.
The senior side-armed a right fist at a ball that got away to keep a rally alive. White eventually set Kate Walker for a kill, her 12th, for a sideout that gave Snyder the serve with her team down one.
She then tied the set at 24 with an ace.
“It was dramatic, and I was really nervous,” Snyder said. “But I knew I had to put the ball in.”
Red Oak moved in front to stay when Blomstedt blocked Gottschalk off the next serve. The final play at the net earned Red Oak a return trip to Cedar Rapids after a year away.
“This is something these kids have dreamed about,” Red Oak coach Angie Montgomery said. “They’re a young team. They have such a bright future. But they weren’t ready to let that be it. They wanted to be there next week.
“This is such a motivated group of kids. I just could not be happier for them.”
ADM (25-11).............................21 23 24
Red Oak (27-6).......................25 25 26
ADM (kills-aces-blocks): Schepers 6-1-1, Mac. Felt 0-2-2, T. Hook 12-0-1, Gottschalk 13-0-1, B. Hook 1-0-0, Dufoe 2-0-1, Wicks 1-0-2, Mar. Felt 1-0-0, Powers 0-0-0.
RO (kills-aces-blocks): Danick 0-1-0, Bergren 1-0-1, Snyder 0-1-0, Mahoney 7-2-0, White 0-1-0, Blomstedt 5-1-6, Walker 12-1-3, Billings 1-0-0, Holmgren 2-1-1.
Set assists: ADM, Mar. Felt 17, B. Hook 10, Schepers 2. RO, Holmgren 17, White 9, Billings 1.