This, quite simply, should be a blast. Especially once we get to Friday.
How strong is the 3A field? Well, Mount Vernon and Waverly-Shell Rock are ranked in the top 25 nationally and most observers consider them the two best teams in Iowa regardless of class. And neither of them are guaranteed to reach the championship match.
No. 1 Mount Vernon is 37-0 in matches, 86-1 in games, won the 2A championship last year and has three Division-I recruits in Ali Stark, Amanda Platte and Courtney Kintzel. Prepvolleyball.com lists the Mustangs at No. 6 in the nation.
No. 2 Waverly-Shell Rock is 48-1 in matches (the only loss came to Mount Vernon in the finals of the WSR Invitational) and 107-3 in games, won the 3A title last year, beat 4A No. 1 Ankeny twice and has three D-I recruits in Rachel Peth, Morgan Kuhrt and Kelsey Roggemann. Prepvolleyball.com lists the Go-Hawks at 25th nationally.
Shoo-ins to square off for the championship on Saturday, right? They’re certainly championship-caliber teams. But at least two others have title dreams of their own.
Neither of the co-favorites can fall asleep on their likely semifinal opponents. No. 3 West Delaware is perennially one of the best defensive teams in the state. The Hawks are 39-3, with all three defeats coming at the hands of Mount Vernon. The Hawks pounded tournament staple Dubuque Wahlert in the regional finals, a victory that gave Coach Brett Mather 500 for his career.
And what of the resume of Sioux City Heelan? The fourth-rated Crusaders are in town for the 13th straight year, the second-longest streak in tournament history and the longest active string.
Everything all season has pointed toward a Mount Vernon-WSR final. But neither team will advance to Saturday’s anticipated showdown without breaking a serious sweat.
Sioux City Heelan over Pella in 3
Mount Vernon over Red Oak in 3
Waverly-Shell Rock over Union in 3
West Delaware over Williamsburg in 4
Mount Vernon over Sioux City Heelan in 4
Waverly-Shell Rock over West Delaware in 4
Mount Vernon over Waverly-Shell Rock in 4