HOWE — After coming up short of reaching the region tournament last season, the Lady Pirates were ready to take another shot at it. There would be five newcomers thrown into the mix but Collinsville had some significant pieces returning in the rotation.

“We started off the year with a new group. I don’t like to compare one team to the next,” Lady Pirates head coach Melissa Johnson said. “What I do is challenge them. This is what our record was last year. I challenge you to match it or surpass it. We went three rounds deep. I challenge you to match it or surpass it.”

Collinsville has a better district record than it did last season and won more matches overall than the 32 compiled last fall. And the Lady Pirates took their first step towards another strong playoff push by defeating Trenton, 25-6, 25-17, 25-15, in a Class 2A Region II bi-district match.

Collinsville (35-10) will face Poolville in the area round on Thursday at a time and site to be determined.

The Lady Pirates blitzed Trenton at the start before the Lady Tigers settled in and made things tougher across the final two games.

“We played them for homecoming so it’s been a month-plus since we’ve seen them. I told the girls they’ve improved since then,” Johnson said. “Our focus was to show how much we’ve improved since then.”

There was no doubt about that focus when Katie Johnson stepped to the service line and didn’t leave until Collinsville held a 15-1 advantage in Game 1. Lexie Martin controlled play at the net early, Talon Andrews picked up a block during a long rally late and the only thing which stopped the run was when Gracie Cavin couldn’t save a ball because it went off a side basketball goal and dropped straight to the floor.

Danna Orozco and Viviana Murphy came up with kills for Trenton but the deficit had widened to the point where the Lady Pirates could cruise through the rest of the frame and then closed on a 5-0 run as Katie and Carrie Johnson put down kills to close it out.

Trenton had the upper hand in the early stages of Game 2, a total turnaround from how the opener played out. Kali Johnson and Orozco led the charge and the Lady Tigers were up 4-1. They had already matched their output when they had a 6-5 lead but the advantage didn’t last much longer.

“There was no energy, no chemistry. You could see it,” Johnson said. “Get the lead and keep it. Same thing in the third set. Get the lead and keep it.”

Trenton was up 8-7 and the last tie came at 10 as Collinsville used a 7-1 run behind Martin to take the lead for good.

The Lady Tigers managed to trim the margin to four a couple of times, the last at 19-15, as Collinsville made enough plays down the stretch to hold Trenton off and claim a 2-0 advantage.

Collinsville then used a pair of early surges in Game 3 to finish off the sweep. Trenton had its only lead at 2-1 when Martin and Katy Claytor sparked a 7-1 run.

Murphy halted the momentum for a moment with a kill and the Lady Tigers were down 8-4 before Claytor put together a strong stretch that included back-to-back kills and a block in the middle of an 8-0 run which sent Collinsville out to a 15-4 advantage.

The deficit stood at 12 when Maddison Lavoie guided Trenton on a 7-1 run of its own and provide some optimism about pushing the Lady Pirates to Game 4. But the gap could only be closed to six points at 19-13 and the Lady Tigers managed just two points the rest of the frame.