CEDAR RAPIDS — That’s three times three.
Megan Gilbert collected 26 kills as top-ranked Tripoli captured yet another Class 1A state volleyball championship Saturday. The Panthers swept No. 11 Janesville, 25-18, 25-16, 25-15, at the U.S. Cellular Center for their ninth title.
Unlike Friday’s semifinal win against LeMars Gehlen, there was no need for a theatrical comeback. The Panthers (36-5) established control midway through the first game and downed their Iowa Star Conference rivals for the third time this season.
“We learned (in the semifinals) not to look past anybody,” Gilbert said.
Tripoli has been the big fish in the small-school pond for more than a decade now. The Panthers captured three straight titles from 1999 through 2001, then repeated the feat from 2003 through 2005.
Now, they’ve done it again (2008-10). And with Gilbert back next year, the Panthers surely will be favored to make it four in a row.
“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” said Tripoli Coach Will Baumann.
A 6-foot junior middle blocker, Gilbert could not be contained. Her 26 kills — opposed to two errors — in 38 attempts calculated to an astronomical .632 kill efficiency.
Gilbert was an easy pick for all-tournament captain. She was joined on the all-tournament team by teammate Bailey Kirchhoff, Janesville’s Olivia Fisher and Brittney Hanson, LeMars Gehlen’s Steph Rohe and Stanton’s Kadie Subbert.
Kirchhoff added 13 kills. Sara Hoppenworth collected 37 assists.
Janesville (26-9) got out to an 11-7 lead in the first game, but it didn’t last. The Panthers quickly took the lead and kept the momentum throughout.
Fisher had 12 kills for the Wildcats, who were making their first state-tournament appearance in any major girls’ sport.