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Gallery: Lake Mills advances past West Fork

Cede Byrnes of Lake Mills digs the ball Tuesday against West Fork in the Class 2A Region 5 quarterfinals at home. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Cede Byrnes of Lake Mills digs the ball Tuesday against West Fork in the Class 2A Region 5 quarterfinals at home. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

LAKE MILLS — With a sweep of West Fork on Tuesday, the Lake Mills volleyball team tied its school record for wins in a season that dated back to 2011.

The Bulldogs improved to 45-3 with a 3-0 home victory that only lasted an hour in the Class 2A Region 5 quarterfinals.

Although Lake Mills coach Jim Boehmer said he was pleased to tie the record, he said the team struggled at the net with a 0.172 hitting efficiency and was downtrodden in the locker room.

“We had 11 hitting errors in the third set. That’s horrendous,” he said. “We need to bring a lot more passion, a lot more energy and a lot more commitment on Friday or we won’t get the result we want. I think tonight we were just going through the motions.”

The next two days will be used to prepare for Clarion-Goldfield.

“We’ve got a couple days to refocus and get in some practice,” Boehmer said. “There are a few things we need to work on, and we need to execute our gameplan better.”

West Fork came into the match with an 11-16 record but had won four of its last seven.

Lake Mills won the first set 25-16, and Madison Shifflett delivered the set-winning kill. She had eight kills on the evening and is eighth in the North Iowa Conference with 271 kills on the season.

In the second set, the Bulldogs jumped out to a 10-3 lead. West Fork fought back with a 4-2 run, but that was as close as the Warhawks were able to get. A kill by Sydney Larson capped a 25-18 Lake Mills win.

Larson and Cede Byrnes tied with a team-high 10 kills. Byrnes has 300 kills on the season, which is the 16th in the Class 2A standings and fourth in the conference. Larson has 183 kills on the season.

The third set was the closest. West Fork led 10-8, but Lake Mills answered with a 5-0 run and didn’t trail after that.

“West Fork changed their defense after the first set, and we didn’t adjust well for that,” Boehmer said. “That’s something we need to work on.”

Kelsea Heintzman continued her excellence at the setter position with 37 assists. She is the only player in Class 2A to have more than 1,000 assists. Her total of 1,108 is more than any other player in Iowa. Samantha Bohnet, a senior from Class 5A’s Abraham Lincoln High School in Council Bluffs, Iowa, is second with 1,091 assists.

Defensively, Lexi Groe led the Bulldogs with 15 digs, while Heintzman, Shifflett and Larson each had three blocks.

Lake Mills has won nine straight matches and 24 out of its last 25.

Next, the Bulldogs will host Clarion-Goldfield (23-11) in the semifinals at 7 p.m. Friday. The teams met at the Algona Tournament on Sept. 27, and Lake Mills won 2-0: 21-19, 21-10.

“Clarion is a very solid team, a team I thought was going to be ranked,” Boehmer said. “They started the season 12-1. Since then, they’ve been up and down, but they’re a dangerous team.”

In the other Region 5 semifinal, No. 7 Grundy Center (27-9) will host South Hamilton (15-11) at 7 p.m. Friday. On Tuesday, Grundy Center swept West Marshall, and South Hamilton swept Collins-Maxwell/Baxter.