Abbey Fryauf hits against Tipton earlier this month. Photo by Darren Miller. By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
CENTER POINT – West Branch proved in the second set of Tuesday’s Class 2A, Region 7 title game that it could hang with the best in the state.
Sumner-Fredericksburg showed all match why it is considered one of the state’s top teams.
Third-ranked Sumner-Fredericksburg (33-5) shook off a spirited effort by West Branch to return to the state tournament for the fifth straight season with a 25-11, 25-21, 25-15 win at Center Point-Urbana high school.
“That second set showed that we can keep up the best teams in the state,” West Branch senior Knoop said. “They are one of the best teams in the state, they got second last year, they are ranked third and we knew it was going to be a tough match and I am so proud, we fought so hard.”
Knoop had three of her team-high nine kills in a back-and-forth second set but it wasn’t enough as Sumner-Fredericksburg closed the second set on a 7-3 run and never let up.
All-staters Jaydlin Seehase and Becca Pagel combined for 22 kills for defending 2A runner-up Sumner-Fredericksburg who will face No. 10 Waterloo Columbus (27-13) in the 2A quarterfinals on Wednesday at 4 p.m.
West Branch ended its season at 21-16.
West Branch senior Abby Knoop
“We had stretches where we were more effective and a lot of that came in the second set and a few moments in that third set also,” West Branch coach John Walsh said. “The consistent level of play that they have was just too tough to overcome tonight.”
Sumner-Fredericksburg bolted to a 9-1 lead in the opening set and was never challenged.
Seehase and Pagel each had three kills in the opening set that featured four runs of more three or more consecutive points by the Cougars.
“The first set they just took us out of everything that we wanted to try to do,” Walsh said. “Our passing wasn’t strong and it was just a struggle the whole game.”
It appeared as if the rout was on as Sumner-Fredericksburg jumped to a 5-2 lead in the second set.
This time West Branch came fighting back.
The Bears tied the score at 7-all on a Claire Bridges kill and took its first lead at 8-7 on a Cougar hitting error.
“The second was more of what we expected,” Sumner-Fredericksburg coach Gwen Pagel said. “We came out really tough that first one so of course it would be nice to breeze through but West Branch wasn’t going to let us do that, they are a very good team.”
The second set was back-and-forth from that point on.
West Branch let 13-11 following a 3-0 run that featured a kill and ace block by sophomore Abbey Fryauf and a Bridges’ ace serve.
“I’m very proud of how we bounced back that second set,” Walsh said. “We certainly gave them more of a battle and after that first set they may have been thinking they were in for another three-set but battle so I was happy we gave them a little something to think about and battled with them.”
The Cougars led 18-15 before another three-point West Branch spurt evened the set at 18-all.
It was all Pagel and Sumner-Fredericksburg the rest of the set.
Pagel started a four-point Cougar run with a kill and an ace block and an ace serve by Jenna Brandt gave Sumner-Fredericksburg a 22-18 lead it would never give up.
Pagel had six of her nine kills in the second set including the set-clincher.
“That set was fun,” Knoop said. “They finished better than us but we were right there with them the entire set.”
Sumner-Fredericksburg scored the first seven points of the third set and never trailed.
Knoop had four kills in the fourth set to pull West Branch within 20-15 but the Cougars ended the match on a 5-0 run.
“We knew that she was their big hitter,” Pagel said of Knoop. “We told our blockers to find her and stay with her, not that their other girls aren’t good but we had the idea that she was the one that was going to hurt us. I thought our blockers did a good job and we got a lot of touches.”
Knoop had seven of her nine kills in the final two sets despite the constant attention from Cougar blockers.
The senior finished the season with a school-record 463 kills.
“I like how she adjusted, she missed a couple of swings early and we were talking in between points about looking for other places to hit and I thought she made some nice adjustments,” Walsh said. “What a great talent that we had for four years and she certainly has a lot to be proud of.”
Fryauf added four kills and two ace blocks for West Branch while Dalana Kron had two kills.
“Our goal was really just to play the game we knew how to play,” Kron said. “We gave it everything we had and in the end that’s all that really matters.”
West Branch 11 21 15
Sumner-Fredericksburg 25 25 25
Courtney Jarrett 0-1-0, DaLana Kron 2-0-0, Sydney Lamont 1-0-0, Abbey Fryauf 4-0-2, Abby Knoop 9-1-1, Kaiya Luneckas 0-0-1, Claire Bridges 1-1-0, Team 17-3-4.
Assists – Sophie Nopoulos 8, Riley Vaughan 3.
Jenna Brandt 2-1-1, Hillary Oberbroeckling 6-3-0, Jaydlin Seehase 13-0-1, Becca Pagel 9-0-1, Mariah Nuss 3-2-2, Georgia Ackley 5-0-1, Team 38-6-7.
Assists – Jenna Brandt 23.