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The Gazette KCRG
Posted November 1, 2011
Another showdown — but this year, it’s earlier

This was the scene last year when West Delaware and Waverly-Shell Rock collided at the state volleyball tournament. The Hawks won in five games in a 3A semifinal. They meet again Wednesday in a regional final at Oelwein. (SourceMedia Group News)

This is the byproduct of the strength of Class 3A volleyball in Eastern Iowa.

West Delaware and Waverly-Shell Rock are two of the top four teams in the state, according to the final Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union rankings. One of them will end its season Wednesday in Oelwein.

“Both teams deserve to be at the state tournament,” said West Delaware Coach Brett Mather. “It’s very unfortunate that either No. 3 or No. 4 won’t make it to the final eight.”

The state field will be complete after Wednesday’s regional finals in 3A and 4A.

Eight matches contain area teams, including defending 4A champion Iowa City West. The top-ranked Women of Troy meet Cedar Rapids Washington at Cedar Rapids Jefferson.

Elsewhere in 4A, No. 2 Iowa City High faces Muscatine at Wilton, and No. 7 Cedar Rapids Kennedy takes on Bettendorf at Clarence.

In 3A, Marion takes its shot at No. 1 Dubuque Wahlert at Epworth, No. 2 Solon battles Fairfield at Washington (Iowa), No. 7 Maquoketa meets No. 13 Davenport Assumption at DeWitt, and No. 9 Union faces No. 8 Bondurant-Farrar at Brooklyn.

Regional champions advance to the state tournament next week at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena.

No. 4 West Delaware is seeking its seventh state trip since 2003. The Hawks were 3A runner-up last year, outlasting Waverly-Shell Rock in a five-set semifinal. The Go-Hawks are ranked third.

It would have taken some extremely creative bracketing by the IGHSAU office to keep the top four teams apart.

“I’m sure both teams were disappointed in the pairings, but it is what it is,” Mather said. “They’ve got a great team. We’ll have to frustrate them defensively and extend rallies as long as we can.”

City High was favored in its last two regional finals, but stubbed its toe against Linn-Mar in 2009 and Cedar Rapids Xavier last year.

“We’re the favorite again,” City Coach Craig Pitcher said. “We should win, but we have to play it out.

“The personality of this team is a little different. We don’t rely as much on one kid. We have four hitters that are really close to each other in kills.”

WEDNESDAY’S REGIONAL VOLLEYBALL FINALS

CEDAR RAPIDS WASHINGTON vs. IOWA CITY WEST (4A)

Time & site — 7 p.m., at Cedar Rapids Jefferson

Records & rankings — Washington is 20-17; No. 1 West is 35-6.

Notable – It has been a remarkable journey for West, the defending 4A state champion. Setter Caroline Found was killed in a moped accident in August, and the Women of Troy have embarked on a roller-coaster ride that has included a Mississippi Valley Conference tournament title and a divisional crown. Shelly Stumpff and Olivia Fairfield are the big hitters while Kelley Fliehler has developed into a quality replacement at setter. Washington has become a competitive squad in Kari Lombardi’s tenure, and the Warriors pursue their first state berth since 1994. Aleena Hobbs and Danielle Franklin both average a shade over 2 kills per game.

CEDAR RAPIDS KENNEDY vs. BETTENDORF (4A)

Time & site — 7 p.m., at Clarence (North Cedar Middle School)

Records & rankings — No. 7 Kennedy is 28-9; Bettendorf is 15-14.

Notable — Kennedy has become a state-tournament fixture, and the Cougars are heavily favored to extend their season for the fourth consecutive year. Allie Hutcheson is one of the state’s best players, and certainly one of the most rounded. the Northern Colorado recruit averages 7.5 assists and 2.6 kills per set, sporting a .449 kill efficiency. Seven Kennedy players average at least 1 kill per game. Bettendorf has become a master of marathons in the postseason; the Bulldogs beat Clinton and North Scott in five game apiece. Bettendorf’s last state trip came in 2007. Caitlin Wernentin in the top threat at the net, averaging 3.76 kills per game.

IOWA CITY HIGH vs. MUSCATINE (4A)

Time & site — 7 p.m., at Wilton

Records & rankings — No. 2 City High is 37-3; Muscatine is 26-8.

Notable — After falling in the regional finals in 2009 and 2010, City High is back for another shot at state. And once again, the Little Hawks are favored. Erin Muir is the 4A leader in assists (10.44 per game), and she has a variety of weapons from which to choose. Four different City hitters (Michaela Nelson, Rachel Rinehart, Liz Hubing and Abby Saehler) average at least 2 kills per game. These teams haven’t played, but City High is 9-0 against the Mississippi Athletic Conference this year. Shalyn Greenhaw is Muscatine’s chief threat; she averages 2.71 kills per game. the Muskies’ last trip to state was in 1978. 

UNION vs. BONDURANT-FARRAR (3A)

Time & site — 7 p.m., at Brooklyn

Records & rankings — No. 9 Union is 31-7; No. 8 Bondurant-Farrar is 32-6.

Notable — Union made its state-tournament debut last year, staying relatively competitive with Waverly-Shell Rock in a first-round loss. All six starters are back in a big to return. Senior setter Sara Jesse is the state leader (all classes) in assists, at 10.53 per game. She’s got a strong stable of hitters, led by Sam Barz (3.55 kills per game, .341 kill efficiency) and Payton Hilton (2.85, .360). Bondurant-Farrar is bidding for its second state appearance, it also qualified in 1997. Bobbie Jo Burrows does a little bit of everything.

WEST DELAWARE vs. WAVERLY-SHELL ROCK (3A)

Time & site — 7 p.m., at Oelwein

Records & rankings — No. 4 West Delaware is 37-6; No. 3 WSR is 44-3.

Notable — The best match in the state Wednesday and a rematch from last year’s state-semifinal thriller, won by West Delaware in five games. The Hawks are seeking their seventh state appearance since 2003, and Mackenzie Harbaugh and Amanda Bries were on last year’s runner-up squad. Waverly-Shell Rock was the 2009 3A state champion, and Kinsey Caldwell and Morgan Kuhrt — both seniors now — were key members of that team. Kuhrt averages 4.16 kills per set while Caldwell hits at a .459 clip. Neither team has been tested in regional play.

MARION vs. DUBUQUE WAHLERT (3A)

Time & site — 7 p.m., at Epworth

Records & rankings — Marion is 31-14; No. 1 Wahlert is 28-8.

Notable — It seems hard to believe, but it’s been six years since Wahlert has won a state volleyball title. The Golden Eagles are among a handful of title hopefuls, provided they get past Marion, which is chasing its fifth state berth since 2005. Marion was a co-champion of the Wamac Conference West Division. Hannah Miller is the chief net threat for Marion; she averages 3.5 kills per game and owns a kill efficiency of .400. Sarah Ernst (8.3 assists per game) makes the Indians’ offense click. Amy Ihm, Molly Tranel and Alyssa Klostermann average 2-plus kills per game for the Golden Eagles.

SOLON vs. FAIRFIELD (3A)

Time & site — 7 p.m., at Washington, Iowa

Records & rankings – No. 2 Solon is 31-1; Fairfield is 28-9.

Notable — Volleyball is the rare sport in which Solon hasn’t yet conquered; the Lady Spartans are seeking their first state appearance. The young Lady Spartans’ dream season nearly went down in flames in Round 1; Williamsburg won the first two games before Solon sprinted back to win the next three and survive. A pair of Kelseys (Hinrichs and Cave) fuel the team. Fairfield has six girls averaging at least a kill per game, led by Tori Ogden. The Trojans advanced to state most recently in 2008.

MAQUOKETA vs. DAVENPORT ASSUMPTION (3A)

Time & site — 7 p.m., at DeWitt

Records & rankings – No. 7 Maquoketa is 31-5; No. 13 Assumption is 25-8.

Notable — Somebody’s going to punch its ticket for the state volleyball tournament for the first time. Assumption has cut its teeth in a competitive 4A-heavy Mississippi Athletic Conference, finishing in a four-way tie for the title (with Clinton, North Scott and Pleasant Valley). Maquoketa’s league hasn’t been shabby either — the Cardinals are one of four Wamac Conference East Division schools listed in the final 3A rankings. The Cardinals sport three hitters with more than 2 kills per game, led by Haleigh Daurelle. Danielle Cabel leads Assumption at 2.75 kills per set.

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