By Chris Palmquist
HINTON, Iowa--In their last regular season game, No. 5 Gehlen Catholic and No. 7 Hinton battled in Le Mars for a War Eagle Conference volleyball title.
The game was an instant classic, and helped prepare each team for the goal of a trip to the state tournament.
"Gehlen pushed us," said Hinton senior Kasey Reuter. "And we proved that we have what it takes to go up to that next level."
For the Black Hawks, the next level isn't just beating Gehlen and Unity Christian in the same season for the first time in their careers, it's making the state tournament, which they haven't done since 2005.
"Last year we were so close," Lauren Hedlund, Hinton senior said. "We fell to St. Albert in the regional final and we wanted it so bad.
"We took them in the first game and we thought we could do it, we were pushing. We want it so bad."
As the seventh-ranked team in Class 2A, the expectations are there for Hinton to take the next step.
"I think that in our hearts we have the drive that we want it so bad," said Tori Bishop, Hinton senior. "That it won't be so much of us letting others down, but us letting our team down and ourselves down."
Even with the state tournament drought, this team says that just playing in Cedar Rapids isn't enough.
"I would expect us to play a little bit longer," said Coach Jodi Cook. "And I think their expectation would be that too. I think we're going to set the goal high. I always feel like if you take one point at a time, one game at a time, you can always succeed."
"We've always talked about that," added Reuter. "Getting to state is a goal, but it can't be the end goal. We have to make progressive goals.
"So right now we're focused on getting there, but once we get there we want to make a statement."
Hinton opens up their quest for the state tournament on Tuesday at home against No. 13 South O'Brien. First serve is set for 7 PM.