BY JOHN BOHNENKAMP
BURLINGTON — The start was perfect.
And then it turned into a wake-up call.
Fort Madison High School’s volleyball team struck early and often in Tuesday’s Class 4A regional semifinal against Burlington High School.
But the Grayhounds quickly responded to end the Bloodhounds’ season with a 25-19, 25-22, 25-14 victory.
Fort Madison finished with a 15-24 record. Burlington advanced to play at North Scott in next week’s regional final.
The Bloodhounds, who lost to the Grayhounds three times this season, started strong, scoring seven of the first eight points and leading 14-5 in the first set. Jillian Wiseman, Fort Madison’s leading hitter this season, had six kills and a block in the opening run.
Then Burlington scored 13 of the next 14 points. Three of the points came on service aces from Carley McGinity. Kylie May had two kills and Bailey Wiemann, Alyssa Dameron and Angel Baylark each had one.
“I think it’s a matter of them waking up, we rotated Jillian out of the front row, we made a few errors, made our kids think a little more, and Burlington got some momentum,” Fort Madison coach Kent Bailey said. “They’re a good team. They’ve got multiple hitters. They got going and we didn’t get them stopped.”
Fort Madison had an early deficit in the second set, but came back for a 21-20 lead. Then the Grayhounds closed the set with a 5-1 run — Baylark had two kills and then May had a kill on set point.
Wiemann took over to start the third set, with three kills and a block as Burlington built an 11-8 lead. Fort Madison scored two consecutive points, then the Grayhounds scored 10 of the next 11. Baylark had three kills and McGinity had two in the run.
“We had opportunities,” Bailey said. “Our kids played well. It’s just a matter of a mistake here, a mistake there. A couple of hitting mistakes, a serve receive error. We allowed them to get a jump on us.
“Give our kids credit. We battled. I knew they would.”
Wiseman finished with 15 kills on 42 of 51 hitting to lead the Bloodhounds.
“Jillian is a special player,” Bailey said. “And I hope she understands that. A 5-foot-10 kid who can hit the ball like that, she’s a definite asset to our program. I hope someday she realizes how good she was.”
Bailey appreciated his team’s effort.
“We played a tough schedule,” he said. “We’ve got a number of young kids — we had a mix of younger and older kids playing, and they played tough. We played a lot of different kids this year, and hopefully that bodes well for next year.”
Lauren Bailey was 14 of 14 serving with an ace, led the Hounds with 16 assists and had 12 digs on the night. Gracie Pumphrey had 13 digs to lead Fort Madison on defense.