Henry County schools take 3 of top 4 SEISC seeds

New London, WACO and W-MU to host conference tournament pools

New London’s Aliyah Christensen sets the ball during a match against Holy Trinity Catholic at Keokuk Middle School during the Keokuk HS Volleyball Invite Saturday. [Donald K. Aliprandi/]
New London’s Aliyah Christensen sets the ball during a match against Holy Trinity Catholic at Keokuk Middle School during the Keokuk HS Volleyball Invite Saturday. [Donald K. Aliprandi/]

The Southeast Iowa Super Conference tournament final is always a battle between a few of the conference’s toughest teams, but when the top six teams meet up in Burlington on Saturday, it would be better classified as the clash of the titans.

Sure, the SEISC was good last year, with Van Buren County and Holy Trinity Catholic advancing to the state tournament, but the SEISC looks even stronger this year, and that means one of the most talented conference tournament fields in recent memory.

The No. 1 seed in the tournament is Holy Trinity, a squad currently ranked No. 1 in the Class 1A rankings. The Crusaders are coming off a strong weekend in which they went 4-1 in the Keokuk tournament, gaining wins over Central Lee, New London and Van Buren County, while falling to Notre Dame.

The Crusaders are one of three undefeated teams in the stacked SEISC South, currently battling with WACO and New London for the top spot. As the top seed, they would get one of two byes in the finals on Saturday if they can win their pool. Van Buren County and Lone Tree will be visiting Fort Madison on Thursday to try and knock off the top dog.

The next three seeds are from Henry County, starting with third-ranked New London Tigers.

New London had a roller coaster of a weekend, which started early on Thursday night when they knocked off Notre Dame in South Division play. The Tigers bounced back from a 26-24 loss in the first set to win the next three 25-16, 25-15 and 25-17 to earn a monster four-set victory.

Tiger junior Aliyah Christensen had 33 assists in their win against Notre Dame, and she added a boatload more in the Keokuk tournament on Saturday. Christensen hit 1,000 career assists, a stellar milestone for someone in just her junior year. The Tigers, however, were a little rocky, going 2-3 with two-set wins over VBC and Keokuk, but losses to Central Lee, HTC and Notre Dame, all teams who will be favored to advance to the SEISC final on Saturday. Before Saturday, New London was riding and undefeated season.

The Tigers will host Pekin and Danville for pool play. Oddly enough, New London has already hosted those two teams in a Saturday tournament earlier this season, one the Tigers coasted through.

As if those teams weren’t enough to worry about, the WACO Warriors are the hottest team in the entire conference and they’ll be hosting Pool No. 3. WACO has won 15-straight games including four South Division victories, placing them atop the division.

WACO is sitting at an impressive 17-1 overall record and has only lost to West Burlington, a team the Warriors beat two weeks later in a South Division game. Along with West Burlington, WACO already holds conference wins over Cardinal, Central Lee and Danville.

The Warriors aren’t ranked, at least not yet, but they could strengthen their case on Saturday. First, though, they have to get there by beating Wapello and Highland in pool play on Thursday.

The most dangerous team in the North looks to be Winfield-Mt. Union. The Wolves are 4-0 in conference play, having knocked off Pekin, Hillcrest Academy, Columbus and Highland. The Wolves took care of Highland in three-straight sets on Thursday, winning 25-12, 25-8 and 25-16. Jenna Buffington led the way with 11 kills.

Like WACO, W-MU is a senior-led team that has been red-hot as of late. The Wolves still have two huge conference games against Louisa-Muscatine and Mediapolis at the end of the season, but they could make big waves in the conference tournament.

W-MU will take on Mediapolis in pool play in a battle between the only two undefeated teams in the North Division. The Wolves also will host Columbus.

Louisa-Muscatine will host the No. 5 pool, but West Burlington is the top seed. Cardinal will join them in battling for a finals ticket. Central Lee will host the No. 6 pool where both Notre Dame and Hillcrest Academy will be present.

Saturday’s Finals will be bracketed as a six-team single elimination tournament. The top two seeds will get byes. The full list of Thursday’s pool play groupings can be found below.

POOL 1 (at HTC): No. 1 HTC, No. 2 VBC, No. 3 Lone Tree

POOL 2 (at New London): No. 1 New London, No. 2 Pekin, No. 3 Danville

POOL 3 (at WACO): No. 1 WACO, No. 2 Wapello, No. 3 Highland

POOL 4 (at W-MU): No. 1 W-MU, No. 2 Mediapolis, No. 3 Columbus

POOL 5 (at L&M): No. 1 West Burlington, No. 2 L&M, No. 3 Cardinal)

POOL 6 (at Central Lee): No. 1 Central Lee, No. 2 Notre Dame, No. 3 Hillcrest Academy