CLARENCE — Allie Hutcheson’s biggest issue was the blood.
Hutcheson reopened a wound near her rib cage early in Wednesday’s Class 4A volleyball regional final. As the Kennedy Cougars talked during timeouts, a trainer dabbed at Hutcheson’s bright yellow uniform, wiping the blood stain clean.
As for the match, that was a wipeout too.
Hutcheson collected 13 kills and 26 assists as seventh-ranked Cedar Rapids Kennedy swept Bettendorf, 25-14, 25-14, 25-18 at North Cedar Middle School.
Kennedy (29-9) advances to state for the fourth straight year, and Hutcheson has been part of all of it. She was a role player as a freshman, and has gradually developed into one of the state’s top players.
“It feels so great to be going back,” said Hutcheson, who originally opened the wound with a floor burn suffered last week in the regional semifinals. “It’s good to see the way we’re working as a team.”
The Cougars will face No. 4 Dubuque Hempstead (25-8) in a quarterfinal next Wednesday at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena.
“I don’t know who’s there yet, and it doesn’t matter,” Kennedy Coach Michelle Goodall said after the match. “I know we can beat any team we’ve already played.”
Each of the last three Kennedy teams advanced to the state semifinals before bowing out. This team isn’t as ballyhooed, but it might be the squad that has improved the most from start to finish.
“We’ve gotten a lot better, especially with our defense,” said Jordan Calef, who matched Hutcheson with 13 kills. “I think we’re capable of anything.”
The Cougars were dominant Wednesday.
They led from start to finish in the first two games before facing their first deficit of the night at 3-2 in the third game. Bettendorf (15-15) had a couple of two-point leads, but a six-point run put the Cougars ahead to stay at 11-7.
Kennedy whacked 48 kills, Bettendorf 23.
“We were able to maintain a high level,” Hutcheson said. “We knew that anything can happen, and that momentum is always a factor.”
Extended surges were the theme in each set. The Cougars scored seven in a row for a 10-2 cushion in the opener, then tallied eight in a row in the middle game for a 15-5 bulge.
Lexi Rogers added 10 kills for the Cougars. Ashlyn Milbrath counted six. Caitlin Wernentin led Bettendorf with 10.
Hutcheson is projected as a setter in college (she has committed to the University of Northern Colorado), but the 6-foot-1 lefty can attack you a variety of ways.
“Being left-handed, it gives you an advantage because it gives you more attack options,” she said.
“Setting is my favorite … but I really like hitting too.”
Kennedy is one of six teams from the Mississippi Valley Conference to advance to the Ice Arena. The Cougars will be joined in 4A by Iowa City West, Iowa City High, Hempstead and Cedar Falls; Dubuque Wahlert qualified in 3A.