CEDAR RAPIDS — If this was baseball, Jessica Gehrke’s final swing would have drawn chalk.
Gehrke hit the sideline for her 33rd kill, clinching second-ranked Iowa City West’s dramatic five-set victory over No. 3 Cedar Rapids Kennedy in a Class 4A semifinal at the state volleyball tournament Friday afternoon at the U.S. Cellular Center.
Scores were 25-21, 21-25, 25-23, 24-26 and 15-13.
“Jess wasn’t going to be denied,” said West Coach Kathy Bresnahan. “She got to the front court with the match on the line, and I knew it was over.”
The Women of Troy (39-2) defeated Kennedy (35-5) for the fourth time in five tries this season. Their reward: a date with No. 1 Ankeny for the title at 11 a.m. today.
Ankeny (38-1) beat Dubuque Hempstead in four games.
“We have a good team,” said setter Christiana Fairfield. “We won’t be intimidated.”
“This was such a draining match, physically and mentally. Everybody was getting tired. We had to keep going.”
And keep going to Gehrke, who took 96 swings at the ball.
“We knew this was going to be a long fight,” Gehrke said. “We have so much respect for Kennedy.”
The Cougars held a 9-7 advantage in the finale, but West scored five of the next six points and did not let go of the lead.
Kennedy bowed out in the semifinals for the second straight year.
“It’s a little crushing that we didn’t make it to the finals,” said Haley Brightwell, who paced the Cougars with 24 kills. “I feel like this was the state championship, even though it wasn’t.”
Ankeny 3, Dubuque Hempstead 1
The defending-champion Hawkettes dropped the opener, then assembled a big spurt in each of the last three sets.
Down 7-2 in Game 2, Ankeny scored nine in a row to take command. The next two sets were tied 8-8; the Hawkettes scored seven straight in Game 3 and eight consecutive in the finale.
“We gained confidence and momentum,” said Amber Aschoff. “We had confidence in each other.”
Aschoff led the Hawkettes with 16 kills. Heidi Splinter had 19 for Hempstead (33-6).