Iowa goes four sets to beat St. Martinville

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IOWA — After stubbing their toe in the second set with a series of errors, the Iowa Yellow Jackets found their form in the next two sets to pull away from St. Martinville on Wednesday in a Division III bi-district round playoff game.

The win, by scores of 25-20, 21-25, 25-20, 25-15, was the first in the postseason since 2012 for the Yellow Jackets. Iowa (26-21) travels to Thibodaux to play No. 3 E.D. White (25-11) tonight.

The ‘Jackets won the first set behind strong play from Alyna Smith, who had two kills and two aces in the set.

St. Martinville (14-17) rallied in set two, using strong play from Tori Louis, who had four kills and an ace in the set.

“We noticed (Louis) last time we played them (an Iowa win three weeks ago),” Iowa head coach Grant Anderson said. “She is an unbelievable player, very athletic. We just had to stay in front of her. We had to keep our middles in front of her and Allyson (Wrigley) and Lesley (Lebleu) did a good job of that.”

Anderson said the ‘Jackets, who committed nine errors in the set, lost their composure in the set.

“We kind of lost focus a little bit,” Anderson said. “We go by the three S’s — we can’t get separated, can’t play sloppy and can’t play stupid. We got sloppy. We missed a few serves, missed a few easy passes. In the third set we were much better, passed better, served tougher and whenever we had a chance to hit we put balls down.”

Wrigley led the ‘Jackets’ resurgence over the next two sets, totaling five kills and three blocks to help Iowa pull away.

“We challenged her in the second set, told her it was time for her to show up and she really did it,” Anderson said. “Lebleu started blocking a few balls which changed their offensive output and strategy. Grace (O’Neal) and Ana (Alexander) played really well, we all did. Emily Hardy had a bunch of digs and Kylie Browne came in and got a bunch. Smith got a couple blocks; it was a team effort.”

O’Neal finished with 30 assists while Alexander had 29 digs.

Anderson said he expects his team to give it a go against E.D. White, which advanced with a straight sets win over Lusher Charter.

“I know we have to go there and play our best game of the season,” he said. “If we do that, we can compete. That’s all I want, to go compete every night. This win was huge. I want our kids to get used to hosting first and second-round playoff games. I want that to be the expectation for the program.”

Iowa 3, St. Martinville 1