CEDAR RAPIDS — Western Christian sent its “mainstay” out on top.
The top-ranked Wolfpack bid farewell to longtime assistant coach Butch Kooima in championship fashion, sidestepping a first-set threat and defeating No. 6 Lake Mills, 28-26, 25-16, 25-13, in the Class 2A final Saturday afternoon at the U.S. Cellular Center.
Kooima is retiring after 32 years.
“We wanted him to go out on a high note,” said a tearful Western Coach Tammi Veerbeek. “He’s been here for a number of (head) coaches. He is our mainstay, our technician with X’s and O’s.
“I’m sad to see him go.”
Western (47-3) captured its 13th state championship, its eighth in 10 years.
The Wolfpack were eliminated in the semifinals last year by Sheldon. Their title drought was brief.
“We won it when I was a sophomore, and I know what it feels like to lose here,” said setter Kayla Gesink, the all-tournament captain. “It wasn’t a great feeling.”
Western is known for developing “tall Dutch girls.” This team wasn’t quite as tall. The Wolfpack did not have a 6-foot starter.
“That’s kind of our tradition,” Veerbeek said. “We’re known for our big girls. But these seniors have a passion for the game, and that’s where it starts.”
Lake Mills (45-2) had an opportunity to make a dent in the match early, but failed to capitalize on a 21-18 lead.
But the Wolfpack got even at 23-all on Gesink’s ace. The Bulldogs staved off three game points, but a net violation at 27-26 gave Western the set, and it got easier from there.
Lake Mills lost for the first time in 29 matches.
Brooke Wolterstorff led the Wolfpack with 12 kills and joined Gesink on the all-tournament team. So did Lake Mills’ Josie Brackey and Morgan Fjelstad, Abby Graves of Grundy Center and Kalyn Ertz of Mediapolis.