Kylie Wurzer attacks the ball while her Trojan teammate (l-r) Ali Hoffert (5), Josie Weber (4), Clare Courtney (17) Aleah Hackman (13) and Sophie Adams (29) prepare for the ball’s return in Wednesday’s regional contest versus Tripoli. (Photo by Becky Walz)
Kylie Wurzer attacks the ball while her Trojan teammate (l-r) Ali Hoffert (5), Josie Weber (4), Clare Courtney (17) Aleah Hackman (13) and Sophie Adams (29) prepare for the ball’s return in Wednesday’s regional contest versus Tripoli. (Photo by Becky Walz)

They finally did it. 

After falling to Tripoli eight of the last 10 postseasons, the Turkey Valley volleyball team (20-6) defeated the Panthers, 3-2, Wednesday night at home. Set scores were 25-21, 12-25, 25-21, 17-25 and 16-14.

The Trojans advanced to the regional semifinals versus No. 9 Saint Ansgar on the Saints’ home court. The contest took place Monday, Oct. 26, see the Thursday, Oct. 29, Decorah Public Opinion for the game recap, photos and stats.

“This was just a total battle. We fought hard from the get go to get that first set. My only message to the girls before the match was to expect a war, want a war, and win the war. We were able to control our mindset well after bad runs, and find a way to sneak some momentum back to our side throughout the night. That was big,” said Coach Ethan Adams. 

Set one went in the Panthers’ favor early before junior Josie Weber served up five points for a 10-6 TV lead. Tripoli wasn’t to be denied however, as the visitors once again took the lead, 15-12. The Trojans’ effort and Raegan Kime’s serving once again pulled TV ahead, 19-17, in a game that ended 25-21 with J. Weber at the serving line.

Tripoli took control in set two as the Red and White struggled to get its offensive momentum, as the Trojans fell, 12-25.

Back and forth early, Turkey Valley led throughout set three by as many as six, 21-15, late in the set. After Tripoli went on a slight run to pull within two, 21-19, an Aleah Hackman kill put the control back in the Trojans’ hands with Halle Weber serving to make it 24-20. The Panthers eventually succumbed to TV, 25-21.

Set four began with a Tripoli four-point lead, which TV could never quite erase, pulling to within one point several times. The Panthers continued to hold the advantage through set point, 25-17.

Early in set five, Tripoli took control 6-3, maintaining a 13-11 lead before Ali Hoffert went to work at the net. Back-to-back kills put TV even at 13-13. A block by Hoffert and J. Weber, combined with a Hackman kill gave the Trojans the 15-14 advantage. Hoffert served up the final point which ended with a Panther player in the net for the TV win, 16-14.

“Technically speaking, we blocked very well and that was a difference maker. When we were being offensive, we were efficient. We ask a lot of our girls mentally on a daily basis. We have high expectations for the way they carry themselves and how they respond to things that don’t go their way, and that was on display when we were down in a fifth set to 15,” said Coach Adams. “Put your head up, shoulders back and go out and fight, and the girls were able to believe in that message and themselves enough to go and win. I couldn’t be prouder. If ‘character’ is defined by what you do when there’s nothing on the line, then I’d like to believe that ‘heart’ is defined by how you perform when everything is on the line. We had some heart in this game.” 

In Wednesday’s quarterfinals, the Trojans had 42 kills on 127 attack attempts, while serving 82-for-95 with seven aces. They also had 37 assists, 64 digs and 12 blocks.

Slapping down 18 kills with 12 digs and six total blocks was Hoffert. The senior also served 13-for-14 with one ace. Providing eight kills, two blocks and three digs was Hackman. Sophia Adams served 15-for-14 with an ace and had five kills and eight digs. Kourtney Schmidt hammered out six kills, had three digs and served 11-for-12 digs. J. Weber dished out 35 assists, grabbed 10 digs and was 16-for-18 at the serving line.