Isabella clears obstacle, advances in state tourney

Hailey Underwood (No. 17) of Isabella is swarmed by her teammates following the Mustangs’ win in the quarterfinals of the state tournament on Wednesday. (Photo by Anthony Richards)

Hailey Underwood (No. 17) of Isabella is swarmed by her teammates following the Mustangs’ win in the quarterfinals of the state tournament on Wednesday. (Photo by Anthony Richards)

The Isabella volleyball program finally got over the hump and advanced in the state tournament by defeating Sacred Heart Catholic in the quarterfinals (18-25, 23-25, 25-20, 25-21, 15-9).

Isabella showed resilience as it has all season, by bouncing back from a slow start and losing the first two games of the contest.

“We looked nervous,” Isabella head coach Glen Graham said. “We were cautious when we needed to be aggressive and aggressive when we needed to be in system.”

However, the momentum began to swing in favor of the Mustangs during the third game, as Synia Chattman had key blocks down the stretch and Carmelina Fjeldstad’s serving helped put it away 25-20.

“Once we won the third set, we started believing and then our serving was able to stay aggressive,” Graham said.

Isabella prevented the sweep, but still had to win the next two games to secure victory.

“I told the team that ‘I’m not ready to go home,’” Graham said. “We just had to be us and do what we’ve done all year long.”

Game 4 was another close battle between the teams, but the Mustangs finished strong and tied up the match to force a fifth set. The comeback was in full swing.

“I knew that we could do it, and I’m just proud that everyone found it in themselves,” Kinley Tuttle said. “Hopefully this continues to fuel us.”

In the final set, Isabella wasted no time and jumped out to an early 6-1 lead. From there, they were able to settle in and won 15-9 to make the comeback a reality.

“It finally came together,” Fjeldstad said. “This means everything.”

With the win, the Mustangs moved on to play Addison in the semifinals later that day with a trip to the state title game on the line. The state final is scheduled to be played on Thursday.

“Our team is as good as any, and we’ve got an opportunity ahead of us,” Graham said.

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