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The Gazette KCRG
Posted November 11, 2011
West stifles Kennedy rally, returns to 4A final

Iowa City West players celebrate after their 3-2 win over Cedar Rapids Kennedy in the 4A semifinals in the state tournament on Friday, Nov. 11, 2011, at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena in Cedar Rapids. (Liz Martin/SourceMedia Group News)


CEDAR RAPIDS — Iowa City West’s unlikely, bittersweet journey has reached its final chapter.

The top-ranked Women of Troy overcame a furious rally from No. 7 Cedar Rapids Kennedy, scoring the final five points in the fifth game to prevail, 25-18, 25-18, 23-25, 15-25, 15-7, in a Class 4A semifinal at the state volleyball tournament Friday afternoon at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena.

“It feels so amazing,” said West libero Anna Pashkova. “I have chills running through my whole body, and it’s the best feeling in the world.”

Cedar Rapids Kennedy's Allie Hutcheson (13, right) goes up against Iowa City West's Olivia Fairfield (18) in the third game of the 4A semifinals in the state tournament on Friday, Nov. 11, 2011, at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena in Cedar Rapids. (Liz Martin/SourceMedia Group News)

West (38-6) goes after its second straight championship at 11 a.m. Saturday against No. 2 Iowa City High (40-3), a four-set winner over No. 3 Ankeny.

Friday’s victory came exactly three months after the death of setter Caroline Found, who was killed in a moped accident.

“It hasn’t been a typical year,” said West Coach Kathy Bresnahan. “About mid-September, we decided it was time to get going. Not to move on; you’re not going to move on from something like that.

“But we realized that nobody was going to throw us a pity party, and nobody was going to take it easy on us.”

Kennedy sure didn’t. Down two games and trailing 23-20 in the third, the Cougars (30-10) got off the mat.

Allie Hutcheson scored four straight points on right-side kills, then Kennedy won the game on a West net violation.

Seemingly dead, the Cougars were still breathing.

“That stretch at the end of the third game and all through the fourth, that’s the best we’ve ever played,” Hutcheson said.

“We just didn’t want to do down in three,” said Kennedy’s Jordan Calef. “We believed in ourselves, and we got the momentum.”

Kennedy stormed through the fourth set, leading virtually the whole way and busting it open with a late seven-point surge.

Suddenly, a match that seemed destined for a sweep became a 15-point sprint to the finals.

West won it, and eliminated Kennedy in the semifinals for the third straight year.

“I told the kids they needed to get their swagger back,” Bresnahan said. “No tipping. Hit the ball.”

West’s Shelly Stumpff said, “We kind of started snapping at each other, and that’s not us. We needed to take a step back and breathe.”

The Cougars committed five hitting errors in the fifth game, and an 8-2 run put the Women of Troy in command at 9-4. Kennedy got within 10-7, but that was the end of the road.

Stumpff led the Women of Troy with 13 kills, including the clincher. She hit the floor a moment after the ball did.

“It was a really tough battle,” she said. “Kennedy has really great players. (Hutcheson) is an amazing player. I love her to death.”

The feeling is mutual.

“I’m really close to a lot of their players,” Hutcheson said. “Shelly, Olivia (Fairfield), Anna Pashkova … I’ll be rooting for them tomorrow.”

Lexi Rogers recorded 17 kills for the Cougars. Calef and Hutcheson collected 15 kills apiece, and Hutcheson added 35 assists.


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