CEDAR RAPIDS — The Big Red Reign continues, for at least two more days.
Fifth-ranked Marion shrugged off three set points in the second game, erased two more in the third and swept No. 4 Pella, 25-13, 27-25, 28-26, in a Class 3A quarterfinal at the state volleyball tournament Wednesday night at the U.S. Cellular Center.
“We’ve been doing a lot of scenarios like that in practice,” said Morgan Paige, with an extremely hoarse voice. “You have to find ways to score points and make something happen. You can’t fold.”
The defending 3A champion, Marion (37-9) meets No. 1 Sioux City Heelan in a semifinal at 1 p.m. Friday. The Crusaders (51-5) swept Dallas Center-Grimes Wednesday.
It’s a rematch of a semifinal last year, won by the Indians. That team went on to win it all.
“We’ve got to stay focused, because we know they’ll be coming after us,” said JoAnna Forkner.
If Wednesday was any indication, the Indians won’t panic under any circumstance. Their motto, after all, is “Don’t Stop Believin’.”
They didn’t stop when they faced a 24-21 deficit in Game 2. And the belief didn’t cease when they trailed 24-22 in the finale.
“I’m proud of the way we battled,” said Marion Coach Roxanne Paulsen. “We never gave in.”
Pella (39-6) was a first-round casualty for the fourth consecutive year.
“We played very poorly in the first game, then I think we got a little tense (at the end of the other two),” said Dutch Coach Bob Fessler. “We struggled to score points, and we got caught in rotation a little bit.”
The last two games ended on Pella errors.
Pella had a 38-31 advantage in kills, but Marion made up for that with 12 aces, compared to two by the Dutch.
Forkner led all attackers with 15 kills.
Paige added 28 assists, 11 digs, six aces and six kills. She had free-ball kills to give the Indians the upper hand at 26-25 and 27-26 in the finale.
Kelsi Rempe paced Pella with 10 kills.