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November 12, 2019

11/8/2019 3:30:00 PM
Hill(sboro) to steep a climb for Panthers in finals

On Saturday night there were eight teams in Division 4 with the dream of one more victory and a berth in the WIAA state tournament this weekend in Green Bay.
Iowa-Grant was one of those teams. The Panthers were representing their school, communities and the SWAL where they ended the season in third place behind Cuba City and Darlington. They were hoping playing in that tough conference and a strong tournament schedule would help them clear that last rung.
But Hillsboro had other ideas and played a little bit better in turning back the Panthers 3-1.
Scores were 13-25, 23-25, 25-19 and 11-25.
Olivia Liddicoat finished her career at Iowa-Grant with another one of many solid performances. She recorded 12 kills, four blocks, two aces and 10 digs. She helped the Panthers to an "almost" win in set two that went to the Tigers 23-25 then led them to the 25-19 decision in set three.
But the Tigers took set four and the match.
Iowa-Grant coach Marla Simon felt the close second set helped the Panthers get their win in set three.
"The momentum we built at the end of set two carried into set three as we started to make more stops. Serving was tougher and just getting ahead in the set was a huge help," said Simon. "Liv led us again with five kills and three big blocks. She Hazel Klosterman sends a pass to thewas pushing her team to keep working hard. Hazel  Klosterman was keeping the ball alive with her five digs. We started to know we could play with them."
The first set loss could be chalked up to some early jitters.
"I would say nerves figured into it some and we just didn't communicate well on things," Simon said about set one. "They put down a few big hits and that took a little bit out of us, but I thought they started to regroup to play defense. Olivia's three big kills started to rally us."
The second set saw the Tigers take another approach to their attack which the Panthers had to contend with.
"Offensively they were hitting the outside on some shots and then ran a few nice quicks out of the middle to fuel their offense," Simon said. "However, we were able to rally back in that second set as we were down 13-21, and got it to 23-23. We had nine kills in that set led by Liv, Syd Lundell, Mya McCarthy and Hazel's setting.
Though not making it to Green Bay stings some Simon credits her team with all they have accomplished.
"It hurts but these kids and my coaching staff have really worked hard this past season and off-season to have a good tourney run again." Simon said. "To fall just a couple sets short of playing in Green Bay will not be forgotten. But, to see how these kids rallied in tournaments and they fed off the great community support which make this special. They are sectional finalists and were one of the last eight teams standing. It's an accomplishment and they have left a legacy.
"Individually, Olivia Liddicoat finished with three regional championships...not too shabby..and the rest of these kids with two back to back championships," Simon added. "That's pretty awesome."
Simon added she is proud of the Panther volleyball program and all of the kids that work hard at volleyball at Iowa-Grant.
"You have to put time in, not just during the season or just in your high school years," she said. "You have to start young and get a good base for this game, and then work in the offseason in club and our summer stuff. That is what gives you that chance or opportunity to do well as a team and so many of these kids did that. Being sectional finalists and finishing third in the always tough SWAL conference is all good. It's nice to see when hard work, commitment and pride in something pays off."
Kills - Olivia Liddicoat (12), Annie Spurley (6), Mya McCarthy (6)
Blocks - Olivia Liddicoat (4)
Assists - Hazel Klosterman (28)
Aces - Olivia Liddicoat (2)
Digs - Olivia Liddicoat (10), Kenzie Oakes (8)
The Panthers earned the sectional finals by getting past a strong Seneca team Thursday. Scores were 25-16, 19-25, 25-16, 25-11.
Olivia Liddicoat was a beast at the net with 17 kills, nine blocks and also play defense with 13 digs. She had a strong supporting cast to help the Panthers to the 3-1 win.
Annie Spurley had nine kills, six blocks and three aces. Sydney Lundell also had nine kills.
The Panthers served 10 aces with Maci Stevens leading with four, Spurley three and Mya McCarthy three.
"I think the key to this win was just how everyone was really clicking in all areas," Simon said. "Yes we dropped the second set because of some errors we needed to correct in serving and hitting. Then when that was figured out, we were really going after balls well, moving the ball around well on offense, serving tougher and it just seemed to be one of the best matches we played all year."
Kills - Olivia Liddicoat (17), Sydney Lundell (9), Annie Spurley (9)
Blocks - Olivia Liddicoat (9), Annie Spurley (6)
Assists - Hazel Klosterman (37)
Aces - Maci Stevens (4), Annie Spurley (3), Mya McCarthy (3)
Digs - Maci Stevens (13), Olivia Liddicoat (13)

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