Mix competitiveness and intensity and there’s a new word: competensity.
The Johnston volleyball team chose a made-up word that the players utter when they need extra motivation.
The No. 6-ranked Dragons know how to laugh as well as win. The team swept Lincoln 25-14, 25-9, 25-18 Thursday in a Class 5-A regional semifinal at Johnston.
Last season, Johnston players had a similar code word for regrouping — “Destinee,” as in U.S. Olympic team member Destinee Hooker.
The team reached the state tournament. Players decided to adopt a new word again this fall, but at 31-4 this season, they haven’t needed to use it much.
“Sometimes there will be that random person say it at practice,” setter Abby Hallman said.
The players hope to reach the state tournament by beating Valley in a regional final at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Lincoln. It may be time to break out the competensity.
“Volleyball’s no fun without good teammates,” Johnston outside hitter Madeline Miller said.
Miller and Emily Hanson both swatted seven kills and Taylor Joens added six in Thursday’s victory. Miller and Hanson both smashed four ace serves.
There are 10 seniors on Johnston’s roster, including many who played big roles on last year’s state tournament team. They want a return trip to Cedar Rapids.
“As seniors, it’s been a lot more about getting serious,” Hallman said. “This is our last year, so it’s bigger.”
Lincoln, which finished 15-26, was led by Sydney Newton’s 11 digs. The Railsplitters will graduate three seniors — Newton, Kate Nickel and Shelby Sieloff — as well as their coach. C.J. Degen’s wife accepted a job transfer to Omaha, and he told the team it was his final season.
“This is my senior year, too,” Degen said. “They’ll always be my last class.”
Johnston finished the first set with an 11-3 run. The Dragons scored 13 straight midway through the second set.
The teams were tied at 15-15 in the third set before Johnston pulled away.
Lincoln played its best in the third set after Degen challenged his athletes to rally.
“On paper, we knew that Johnston was kind of a juggernaut for us,” Degen said. “The girls responded really well.”
Johnston’s seniors will make one more push to try to get to state.
“It gives us more determination,” Hallman said. “We know we have the skill to make it to the state tournament.”
Competensity might come in handy.