OELWEIN — Waterloo Columbus played like a team that’s been there before.
Monday night, the Sailors made sure they’ll be there again as they put together a 26-24, 25-21, 20-25, 25-18 win over New Hampton in a Class 3A regional volleyball final.
The prize is a return to the state tournament in Cedar Rapids where Columbus (33-8) will face Dyersville Beckman (31-12) next Wednesday at 10 a.m.
Monday’s final was a battle from the outset. The opening set was tied at 24-24 when Sydney Schultz delivered a big kill and Anna Sinnott followed with a service ace for the win.
In set two, the Chickasaws built a lead only to see Columbus calmly fight back and surge ahead at 15-14. Sinnott and Avery Kroll proved to be a lethal combination on the outside that New Hampton was unable to neutralize.
“They (Sinnott and Kroll) do a great job of balancing off one another and coming out calm and composed,” said Columbus head coach Hanna Nuss.
“Tonight we saw Avery step up and be a big contributor on the outside opposite Anna and those kind of things will help us keep advancing onto state.”
The Chickasaws (29-10) regrouped and controlled much of the third set, leading 14-8 at one point and finishing a 25-20 win on a Lauren Frerichs ace, but the Sailors again regained their poise and closed it out in set four.
“We were a little shaken up in the third set, but we were able to refocus and come together in the fourth which I thought was our best set of the night,” said Kroll.
“New Hampton definitely challenged us and is an up-and-coming program and we appreciated them for that,” said Nuss.
Columbus takes a 33-8 record to state where the Sailors will try to erase the disappointment of last season’s loss to Western Christian in the finals.
“Now we just need to keep going and refocus and show that we can win state,” said Clasen.
Nuss said Cedar Rapids is the only place to be come November.
“There’s just nothing better than being able to finish your season at the state tournament,” she said. “We’re heading back and it feels great.”