The Lisbon Lions don’t yet know the ins and outs of the new, expanded Tri-Rivers Conference.
“One of the girls asked me, if we win our division, if we get a trophy,” said Lions Coach Lance Kamaus. “I honestly didn’t have an answer for her.”
Class 1A ninth-ranked Lisbon (21-5 overall, 4-0 Tri-Rivers West) hosts Springville (20-10, 4-0) in one of two important matches Thursday. The giant one is at Manchester, where 4A No. 2 Solon (17-1, 6-0 Wamac East) faces No. 4 West Delaware (26-3, 6-0).
“It’s going to be electric,” said Solon Coach Peter Gustin. “Win or lose, I wouldn’t trade anything for this atmosphere. This is for the division championship, so there are no moral victories. But there will be a lot of character building.”
The Spartans have stumbled just once, in the quarterfinals of the Linn-Mar Invitational, to the host Lions. West Delaware has won 16 consecutive matches.
“It’s going to be two very fast-paced teams,” Gustin said. “I think our offense is a little more power heavy than theirs, and their defense is further along than ours.”
Last year, Solon revolved around Kelsey and Kelsey (Cave and Hinrichs) on its way to a 4A runner-up finish at the state tournament. This year, it’s Jordan and Jordan (Smith and Runge), a pair of juniors who average more than 6 kills per set between them.
West Delaware counters with a young, quick-paced lineup. Other than senior Paige Soppe (2.55 kills per game), the Hawks’ attack is comprised of underclassmen. Setter Carlee Ketchum is a sophomore.
Gustin spent the 2011 season as Brett Mather’s assistant at West Delaware, and the two were players on a USVBA national-champion men’s team in 2010.
As for Springville and Lisbon, this is their third meeting of the season (they split the first two). And it surely won’t be their final meeting of 2013. They could square off in the Tri-Rivers Conference tournament Oct. 19, and they’re likely to face in the second round of the 1A regional tournament Oct. 29.
“It has all the makings to become a really good volleyball rivalry,” Kamaus said. “Both of the first two matches were close, and the girls have mentioned how fun both of them were.”
Kamaus said Springville “is a lot more traditional-looking team that we are. We run two setters (Katie Montgomery and Lexie DeJong), and we have two completely different looks when they’re out there.”
Springville is led by sophomore Megan Wagaman, who averages 2.81 kills per game and posts a .320 kill efficiency.
It’s not a definite winner-take-all for Lisbon and Springville, but both are heavily favored in their divisional finales Tuesday.
DIKE-NEW HARTFORD HEADLINES WESTSIDE FIELD
The format has changed slightly for Cedar Rapids Jefferson’s Westside Invitational on Saturday, but the quality of the field is as strong as ever.
Two-time defending Class 2A state champion Dike-New Hartford highlights the 21-team field. The Wolverines are ranked No. 8 nationally by prepvolleyball.com and claimed the Westside title last year.
DNH is one of nine Westside teams that are located in the most recent IGHSAU rankings. Other top contenders include Dubuque Hempstead, West Des Moines Dowling, Iowa City West and West Delaware.
Formerly a 24-team event, the Westside will consist of seven three-team pools. Each of the pool winners advance to the Gold bracket, along with one second-place pool team.
Pool play begins at 8:30 a.m., with bracket play starting shortly after noon.