Mid-Prairie comes back, moves on

By Jeff Yoder
Posted 10/19/21

It didn’t come easy. 

The Golden Hawks’ regional quarterfinal match with Tipton had its ups and downs. 

But this Mid-Prairie senior class is used to that. And after three …

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Mid-Prairie comes back, moves on

Posted

It didn’t come easy. 

The Golden Hawks’ regional quarterfinal match with Tipton had its ups and downs. 

But this Mid-Prairie senior class is used to that. And after three losing seasons, and three first-round playoff exits, the Golden Hawks showed up ready to fight through any setbacks. 

The night started with an 11-1 Tipton run, but it ended with a 15-12 fifth-set victory for Mid-Prairie. 

“We just really wanted it,” Golden Hawk senior Maddie Nonnenmann said. “We haven’t made it past the first round in how long? We really wanted it tonight. We played our hearts out.”

Mid-Prairie nearly came back from that 11-1 hole in the first set. Lanee Duwa chased down a ball near the back wall and sent it over net during the Golden Hawk rally, part of an outstanding Mid-Prairie effort that brought the crowd to life in Tim Grady Gymnasium. The lead was cut to one, but Tipton held on 25-22.

The Golden Hawks scored four in a row and took a 16-14 lead on Landry Pacha's ace in the second set, and evened the match with a 25-21 set win, but Tipton took four out of the last five points in set three. Mid-Prairie faced elimination. 

“I just told them that they need to get their head right,” Evans said. “We're going to make mistakes, everyone does it. But what do you do after that? Put your head on right. I don't care if you mess up, get back on it. And they actually did that.”

Mid-Prairie came out on fire in the fourth set, winning 25-11 to extend the season. 

“I'm so proud of them because that's been one of our things," Evans said. "When it gets in our head, we kind of just fizzle out. I'm just very proud of them that they rose above it this time and just played the game.”

The final set was competitive. Mid-Prairie trailed 10-8 before scoring four of the next five to get in position for the game-winning point.  

“I was so excited,” Evans said after the volleyball fell on Tipton’s side for the final point. “I was so happy for Ella (Groenewold) to get that final block, and that meant a lot to her.”

Groenewold finished the day with 11 kills and Maya Nonnenmann had a team-high 12 kills. Maddie Nonnenmann finished with six kills and her fellow senior Alyssa McDowell had eight. 

“I was determined not to make this my last game,” McDowell said. “We definitely didn’t play like we thought we were going to tonight, but the fact that we were able to come through it, build and keep the momentum and finish the way we were wanting — that’s just great and that’s all I’ve wanted for this team.”

Pacha had 38 assists in the win, while Duwa and Dakota Mitchell finished with 22 digs each. Behla Schmidt had seven kills and Pacha had six, giving the Golden Hawks six players with at least half a dozen kills. 

“We spread the ball around really well,” Evans said. “Landry does a really good job of that. When you can be a threat at every position hitting wise, they can't cheat a block, right? They can’t find that one hitter that’s just going to put it away every time. Maddie Nonnenmann had one of the best games I've ever seen her have, she was on fire tonight. I told Landry (Pacha) not to let that fire go out, keep setting her.”

Mid-Prairie (16-13) faces No. 4 West Liberty (35-4) in the regional semifinal on Wednesday, October 20. The Comets swept Washington to reach the semifinal round. 

“I believe these girls are so capable of next-level volleyball,” Evans said. “And I think they're starting to really believe in themselves more and more. Having a losing program for however many years in a row, its hard to dig out of that mindset. I think we're definitely going in the right direction. So it’s very exciting and I can't wait to see what we do on Wednesday.”

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