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The Gazette KCRG
Posted November 11, 2011
‘Slugfest’ goes City High’s way

Iowa City High's Rachel Rinehart (10, clockwise from top left), Abby Saehler (4) and Erin Muir (7) celebrate a point over Ankeny in the second game of the 4A semifinals in the state tournament on Friday, Nov. 11, 2011, at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena in Cedar Rapids. City High will play Iowa City West for the 4A championship Saturday at 11 a.m. (Liz Martin/SourceMedia Group News)


CEDAR RAPIDS — It was a grind. It was a slugfest.

And now, it’s an all-Iowa City battle for a state championship.

More often than not, second-ranked Iowa City High made the clutch plays at the clutch times, and the Little Hawks outfought No. 3 Ankeny, 26-24, 26-24, 22-25, 25-23, in a Class 4A semifinal at the state volleyball tournament Friday afternoon at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena.

“We knew it was going to be a slugfest,” said City High Coach Craig Pitcher. “I guarantee, (Ankeny Coach) Dave (Whims) doesn’t tell his kids to tip the ball much, and we don’t like to get short-changed on our hits, either.”

City High (40-3) will face No. 1 Iowa City West for the title at 11 a.m. Saturday. West (38-6) held off No. 7 Cedar Rapids Kennedy in five games.

The Women of Troy are defending champions and won both regular-season matches against the Little Hawks.

“It’s going to be a good opportunity,” said City High’s Abby Saehler. “We lost the other times against them. We want to get the third one.”

Friday’s scores accurately reflect the closeness of the match.

City High trailed 21-20 in the opener before scoring six of the final nine points. The Little Hawks were down 23-21 in Game 2 before ending with a 5-1 run. And in the final set, City scored four of the final five tallies to erase a 22-21 deficit.

“We just had to keep our minds focused,” said Michaela Nelson, who led the Little Hawks with 16 kills. “They’re a big team, so we just decided to hit around them.”

Aliyah Gustafson scored the Little Hawks’ final two points on hits from the right side.

All of City High’s primary hitters are underclassmen, but they played beyond their years. Saehler and Liz Hubing added 14 kills apiece.

Every game was tense and topsy-turvy. The first two games were tied at 24-all before City High came through.

In the opener, the Little hawks benefited from an Ankeny hitting area before Rachel Rinehart’s kill closed the set. In Game 2, Rinehart provided a kill for a 25-24 advantage before Saehler’s block gave City High a two-set lead.

Ankeny (29-9) scored the final three points to emerge from a 22-22 deadlock in the third game, then the Little Hawks came through at the end again in the finale.

The Hawkettes rallied from a 17-13 deficit to take leads of 21-20 and 22-21, but City High made the big plays.

Erin Muir distributed 50 assists for the winners.

Maddie Manning led Ankeny with 19 kills.


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