CEDAR RAPIDS — Momentum can be a fickle, fleeting thing.
It darts, it dances. It comes, it goes.
Tuesday night, Iowa City High grabbed it, lost it, regained it, then kept it.
“The first two games were total opposites of each other,” City High Coach Craig Pitcher said after the Class 5A top-ranked Little Hawks downed No. 2 Cedar Rapids Kennedy, 25-11, 16-25, 25-10, 25-17, in an MVC Mississippi Division volleyball showdown at Kennedy High School.
“It comes down to serving. When we serve aggressively, good things happen. When we serve freeballs, we get on our heels and can’t establish anything.”
City High (1-0 overall, 1-0 division) returns three all-state hitters. The only question mark was at setter, where junior Ruth Grace made her first start.
So far, so good. Grace collected 38 assists, distributing the ball with precision.
“I was a little nervous, but mostly, I was excited,” Grace said. “When you have so many girls that can put the ball down at any time, it takes a lot of pressure off me.”
Abby Saehler led City High with 12 kills. Liz Hubing added 10, Michaela Nelson nine, Rachel Rinehart seven.
It’s been 9 1/2 months since the Little Hawks lost a heartbreaker to Iowa City West in the 2011 state final. Needless to say, they were ready.
“We were downstairs in the locker room, dancing,” Saehler said. “We couldn’t wait.”
City High established control immediately, taking leads of 8-2 and 16-5 in the opening set.
Kennedy (1-3, 0-1) turned it around in Game 2, scoring four straight points for an early 5-2 lead, and building on it throughout.
“After the first set, we came together,” said Kennedy’s Jordan Calef. “It was time to play. We didn’t want to lose in three (games).”
Then the third game started, and the momentum took another U-turn – to City High’s side for good.
The Little Hawks jumped to leads of 9-2 and 14-3 in the third game, then stormed away from a 10-8 advantage in Game 4 with a five-point surge.
Kennedy has advanced to the state semifinals four consecutive years. But right now, the Cougars are mixing in new players to go with middle blockers Calef and Lexi Rogers, who combined for 23 of Kennedy’s 29 kills.
“It’s August,” Kennedy Coach Michelle Goodall said.
IOWA CITY HIGH 3, CEDAR RAPIDS KENNEDY 1
|Iowa City High (1-0, 1-0)||25||16||25||25|
|Cedar Rapids Kennedy (1-3, 0-1)||11||25||10||17|
Serving: City High 86-92 (.935); Kennedy 52-61 (.852)
Aces: City High 3 (Abby Saehler, Ruth Grace, Michaela Nelson); Kennedy 3 (Lexi Rogers).
Kills: City High 45 (Saehler 12); Kennedy 29 (Jordan Calef 12).
Assists: City High 39 (Grace 38); Kennedy 28 (Bre Boote 28).
Blocks: City High 10 (Liz Hubing, Aliyah Gustafon 3); Kennedy 5 (Calef 4).