IOWA CITY - They’ve got an old saying in Springville.
‘Tradition never graduates.’
It was the mantra the Oriole basketball girls had last winter as the team made an improbable run to the state tournament, and it was brought up again Tuesday, Nov. 5, in Iowa City, as the Springville volleyball team looked to do the same as they battled ninth-ranked Lisbon in the class 1A region 7 championship match.
The saying more than held true, as the Orioles pulled off the stunner of the entire tournament taking a thrilling 25-13, 10-25, 25-20, 25-18 triumph over the heavily favored Lions in front of a packed house inside the Iowa City Regina gym.
“This just goes to show, tradition never graduates,” said a euphoric Oriole sophomore Morgan Nachazel, who was also a part of the Springville basketball run to state last winter.
“This is just what we do here at Springville. It’s our tradition. It started with the girls before us and we just want to keep it going. I know there weren’t too many people who thought this was something we would be able to accomplish. We’re a young team, but we believed we could do it and just had to go out and do what we knew we could to do.”
The Orioles and Lions had played just once this season, in a Tri-Rivers Conference tournament match Lisbon swept 2-0 a little more than two weeks earlier. But in the regional championship match, the Lions were going against a much different Springville team. A much more confident team who were playing their best volleyball at the exact right time.
“Tonight was a breakthrough for our team,” said Oriole volleyball coach Claude Howard, who leads the program to the state tournament for the fifth time in the last seven years (also went in 2013, ’15, ’16 and ’17).
“We have talked all season about how young they are, and they have continued to achieve as if they have neem together for years. We have a program full of kids who love the game and love and support each other. Our mental growth over the course of the season has been the most impressive. Tonight, in the face of adversity when getting down in a couple of sets, the kids picked themselves up and succeeded.”
Springville (20-16) needed that mental toughness too, as the Orioles fell into a 7-1 hole right off the bat in the first set, forcing Howard to call a quick timeout to try and slow the Lions’ flurry of points.
Springville went on a huge 24-6 spurt to end the set, and had Lisbon fans, who turned out in huge numbers much like Oriole fans, completely stunned.
“Prior to the match I told the girls we weren’t supposed to make it this far if you asked anyone outside of our gym,” Howard said. “But we knew how strong we were as a team. I told them that if we get knocked down, then get right back up and fight. And if we get knocked down again, then get back up and fight even harder. We did that.”
Springville offense was coming from all over the court as Nachazel, Lauren Wilson, Savannah Nealman, Molly Stamp, Nia Howard and Lily Clark made things extremely difficult on Lisbon defenders.
But the Lions would come right back.
Lisbon jumped to another 7-1 lead, this time in the second set, and this time seemed to get things rolling by claiming the 15-point victory to knot the match at one set apiece.
Little did Lion fans know it at the time, but it would be their last win of the season.
After a Wilson kill gave the Orioles an 8-3 lead in the third set, Lisbon coach Lance Kamaus to call timeout to try and slow the Springville spurt.
It didn’t work.
A Stamp kill later in the set pushed the Oriole lead to 17-9 forcing Kamaus to call another timeout, but Springville points kept coming though Lisbon did continue to put up a fight to the finish in the all-important third set.
Leading two sets to one, the Orioles had the Lions’ backs up against to the wall, and they wanted nothing more than to end the match in the fourth set.
“Lisbon played hard and fought,” said Howard, as Lisbon took an early 9-7 lead in the fourth set. “We knew we would need to stop Maysun Marshall in order to have a chance, and I felt we did that effectively. They made rotation adjustments to get Maysun away from Lauren Wilson and also set the right side a little more as the match went on, which was effective.”
But also, not enough.
After trailing 9-7, Springville went on a huge 9-1 spurt to completely take control of the set, and ultimately, the match as a Lisbon hitting error scored the final Oriole point of the match, setting the team into a frenzied celebration.
“This is a dream come true for all of us,” said Nealman, who slammed down eight kills in the match while also coming up with 22 digs.
“I was so nervous at the start of the match, but after the first few points, I just settled in and the nerves went away. We just believed in each other that we could get to the state tournament, and we did it. This is such an incredible feeling.”
Nachazel powered the offense with 11 kills on 31 attacks while also going a perfect 12-of-12 serving, leading an Oriole serving corps than drilled 92-percent over the net with six going for aces. Wilson added eight kills while Howard chipped in with four more to go with a team-high 28 assists and was 22-of-22 serving with three aces. Clark came through with five big blocks on the defensive side of the net.
“I reminded the girls of the history of our program,” Howard said. “The tradition of success that was set before them and that all I expected was for them to go out and represent our team the best they could. They did.
“I talked to them about 2013, my first season as head coach and how we started out rough but worked things out together as a team until we made it to the (regional) final against No. 3 ranked New London. We won that five-set match in Iowa City also (at Iowa City West High School). This group of kids is very much like those 2013 kids – really fun to coach.”
Springville opens their class 1A state tournament journey as the eighth seed and plays top-ranked and No. 1 seed Sidney (35-8) Wednesday, Nov. 13, with first serve set for 6 p.m. at the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids.
“I don’t think they will be afraid of the state tournament,” Howard said. “If anything, they have to maintain their composure about the pressure they put on themselves individually. This group care about the success of the team, so we will work on our normal game plans and also work on maintaining the right type of confidence.”
Fourth-seeded Gehlen Catholic (25-7) plays fifth-seed North Tama (26-6) in another quarter-final match on the top half of the bracket with Springville and Sidney while second-seeded Council Bluffs St. Albert (24-9) plays seventh-seeded Holy Trinity Catholic (28-10) and third-seeded Janesville (33-11) plays sixth-seeded Wapsie Valley (23-15) in a pair of quarter-final contests in the bottom half of the class 1A state bracket, all on Wednesday.