|Council Bluffs Abe Lincoln (29-21)||13||17||12|
|**Cedar Rapids Xavier (30-11)||25||18||25||25|
|**Iowa City West (35-7)||26||25||25|
|**Cedar Rapids Kennedy (35-7)||25||25||25|
CEDAR RAPIDS — For the Kennedy Cougars, this was a rare and welcome breather.
Fifth-ranked Cedar Rapids Kennedy did not face a deficit all match, and swept No. 9 Urbandale, 25-17, 25-17, 25-22, in a Class 4A quarterfinal at the state volleyball tournament Wednesday afternoon at the U.S. Cellular Center.
“You get ahead, and you’re able to relax a little bit,” said Kennedy’s Kristen Huebsch. “You still have to play your hearts out and never let down.”
Kennedy (35-7) advanced to face No. 3 Iowa City West in a semifinal at 1:30 Friday afternoon. West (35-7) swept Linn-Mar.
It’s a rematch of last year’s semifinal, won by West in five sets. In fact, each of Kennedy’s previous four matches at state went the distance. In 2008 and 2009, the Cougars won in five in the first round, lost in five in the second.
Not this year. No nailbiter this time.
Kennedy scored the first six points of the match and was off and running.
“It’s a huge confidence thing to get ahead like that,” said libero Olivia Meier.
Kennedy Coach Michelle Goodall changed her rotation around, matching Allie Hutcheson against Urbandale’s top threat Margit Hansing.
“It was a defensive matchup more than anything,” Goodall said. “It worked out well.”
The Cougars blew through the first set, opening a 17-7 lead before coasting home. The second set was a little tougher, for a while.
Kennedy led 14-12 before opening it up with seven straight points. Huebsch and Hutcheson had two kills apiece in the surge, and Hutcheson added a block.
The final set was tied at 11-all before the Cougars scored six straight points. Urbandale (35-9) got back even at 21-21 and 22-22 before the Cougars wrapped it up with the final three points.
Huebsch’s offspeed hit caught the J-Hawks flat-footed and hit the ground for a 23-22 lead. Meier added an ace, then the Cougars scored match point on an Urbandale attacking error.
Hutcheson led the Cougars with 12 kills; Katie Sickelka added 11. Hansing counted 15 for Urbandale.
IOWA CITY WEST 3, LINN-MAR 0
West’s “final countdown,” the team’s T-shirt theme all season, now stands at two.
The Women of Troy endured two close games, then romped late to beat Linn-Mar for the third time this season, 26-24, 25-23, 25-14.
“We need to push harder if we want to keep counting down to the championship (match),” said Olivia Fairfield.
Linn-Mar (18-19) never led in the first game, but battled back from an early 6-0 deficit to tie the set at 22-22 and 24-24. The Women of Troy had the final surge, polishing it off with kills from Olivia Fairfield and Lexi Potter.
The Lions led the majority of the second game, the final time at 20-19, before the Women of Troy took over. Potter blocked Linn-Mar’s Kiah Stokes for set point.
“We came out aggressive. We thought we could win the match,” Stokes said. “The momentum of losing the first two definitely put us down.”
A five-point run gave West an 11-8 lead in the third game, and they didn’t let the Lions off the deck.
Potter collected 10 kills, Fairfield added nine for West. Caroline Found distributed 31 assists.
Stokes has 10 kills for the Lions.
ANKENY 3, COUNCIL BLUFFS ABRAHAM LINCOLN 0
The Hawkettes have won two consecutive state championships, but don’t call them defending champs.
“We like to think of it as a brand new year,” said middle blocker Erin Roggenburg. “We’re not state champs, so we have to come out and get it this year.”
No. 1 Ankeny (34-3) took the first step in decisive fashion, 25-13, 25-17, 25-12.
Maddie Manning collected 12 kills. Roggenburg and Katie Cox added eight apiece.
Abraham Lincoln (29-21) suffered through a kill efficiency of minus-.032 (21 kills, 24 attacking errors).