You’d think the well would run dry eventually, wouldn’t you?
A small-school volleyball program just isn’t supposed to be this good for this long.
But here’s Tripoli again, back in the field for the 12th time in 13 years. The Panthers are seeking their ninth Class 1A state championship in that span. Judging by the number of underclassmen (only two starters are seniors), it’s a run that should extend beyond this season.
Who’s to stop the top-ranked Panthers? Alta is No. 2 and has a little motivation on its side. The Cyclones are making their first trip to Cedar Rapids in their final year of existence. They’ll move into a sharing agreement with Aurelia next year.
No. 3 Grandview Park Baptist has 11 losses, but none to 1A competition. The quality of competition should benefit the Defenders.
Also unbeaten against 1A foes is No. 6 Fort Madison Holy Trinity. The Crusaders are young, and their starters are short (none taller than 5-7), but this is a team that can never be discounted.
I think Janesville is a dark horse. The Wildcats, making their first state appearance in any girls’ sport, are from the same conference (Iowa Star) as Tripoli and have seen good volleyball throughout the season. They won’t be seeing anything they haven’t viewed before.
Then again, neither will we. We’ll see the same story unfold we’ve seen eight previous times since 1999. We’ll see Tripoli celebrating on Saturday night.
Fort Madison Holy Trinity over LeMars Gehlen in 4
Tripoli over East Union in 3
Grandview Park Baptist over Stanton in 3
Janesville over Alta in 5
Tripoli over Fort Madison Holy Trinity in 4
Grandview Park Baptist over Janesville in 4
Tripoli over Grandview Park Baptist in 3