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The Gazette KCRG
Posted November 10, 2011
That Western machine keeps purring along

Western Christian players celebrate their class 2A state quarterfinal win over Kuemper Catholic at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2011, in southwest Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Western Christian won in three sets. (SourceMedia Group News/Jim Slosiarek)

 

CEDAR RAPIDS — As well as they reload, as often as they return, the volleyball players from Western Christian don’t seem to view state-tournament appearances as a birthright.

“It’s such a blessing that we can come back here,” Brooke Wolterstoff said after top-ranked Western swept Carroll Kuemper, 25-10, 25-16, 25-21, in a Class 2A quarterfinal Thursday night at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena.

The Wolfpack (48-1) extended their state record of consecutive semifinal appearances to 11. They’ll face No. 4 Grundy Center (42-1) at 6 p.m. Friday.

Kuemper Catholic's Jacie Hoffman digs during their class 2A state quarterfinal match against Western Christian at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2011, in southwest Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Western Christian won in three sets. (SourceMedia Group News/Jim Slosiarek)

Another trip to the semifinals. Ho-hum, you say? Well, consider this:

Wolterstorff is the lone returning starter from last year’s title team. The list of newcomers to the rotation includes a freshman setter, Jamie Gesink.

Yet, Western Christian has won 55 consecutive matches against Iowa competition. The last defeat was against Sioux City Heelan in the Wolfpack’s 2010 regular-season finale.

“This is one of the most athletic teams I’ve ever had,” said Western Coach Tammi Veerbeek. “If you start with athletes, that can take you a long way.”

The Wolfpack breezed through the first two games. The third set was more challenging.

Kuemper (23-9) owned its final lead at 13-12, then the Wolfpack scored four consecutive points to take the lead for good. It was 18-17 when the teams played sideout volleyball — with Western’s lead varying from one point to two — until the 22-21 mark.

Western closed it out with three straight kills from three different players — Wolterstorff, Shae DeJager and Haley Moss.

Wolterstorff led all attackers with 12 kills. Moss, a 6-foot-5 sophomore, added 10.

“When (Moss) gets behind the ball, she can do a lot with it,” Veerbeek said. “Teams aren’t used to seeing 6-foot-5 on the right side.”

Western Christian's Brooke Wolterstorff (center) hits to Kuemper Catholic's Madi Drees (left) and Morgan Naberhaus during their class 2A state quarterfinal match at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2011, in southwest Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Western Christian won in three sets. (SourceMedia Group News/Jim Slosiarek)

The faces and the names change, but Western Christian remains Western Christian. They’re the queens until dethroned.

“They’re quick, and you can tell they’re used to being here,” said Kuemper Coach Keith Stickrod. “It took until the third game that we could start getting a touch on every ball.

“As the match more on, we got closer and closer, but we let the emotion get to us the first couple games.”

Brandi Bueltel led the Knights with 11 kills.

Gesink contributed 36 assists for Western.

So now, it’s a showdown with Grundy Center.

“They’re a really good team,” Wolterstorff said. “We’ll have to play our best game to beat them.”

Veerbeek said, “We have to keep rising up. It’s going to be a big challenge. We’ll see what we can do.”

 

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