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The Gazette KCRG
Posted October 8, 2012
Solon faces challengers aplenty

Solon's Emma Rickels sets the ball during the Warrior Invitational volleyball tournament earlier this season. The Spartans are the favorite of a balanced Wamac Conference tournament this week. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette-KCRG TV9)

Solon High School volleyball coach Peter Gustin was asked to name a primary challenger for his team at the Wamac Conference volleyball tournament this week.

It became a fairly lengthy conversation.

“Let’s see. Maquoketa has an incredibly strong team,” Gustin said. “If you play them, you’ve got to give it your all.

“There’s Mount Vernon and West Delaware in the East Division, and there’s some good teams in the West … ”

You get the picture.

Five area conference tournaments will be contested this week. The 16-team Wamac event is Tuesday (pool play, at Center Point and Anamosa) and Thursday (bracket play, at Mount Vernon). The Cedar Valley Conference tournament began Monday and concludes Thursday.

The Mississippi Valley, Tri-Rivers and Northeast Iowa conferences will hold their tournaments Saturday at Cedar Rapids Kennedy/Cedar Rapids Xavier, Arlington and New Hampton, respectively.

Talking depth, balance and overall strength? Then let’s talk about the Wamac and MVC.

The Wamac tournament features seven ranked teams, led by Class 4A No. 6 Solon (23-4). The Spartans were undefeated champions of the East Division, though they were pushed hard by 4A No. 8 Maquoketa (24-5) and 4A No. 9 West Delaware (25-9).

West Delaware is in the same pool as Solon.

“It’s an interesting draw,” Gustin said. “We’ll have to reboot and go all over again.”

Class 4A No. 10 Marion (23-11), 3A No. 13 Waterloo Columbus (21-11) and Clear Creek Amana (18-10) shared the West Division title.

Sessions begin at 4 p.m. at both sites Tuesday, and also on Thursday.

Pool assignments for the MVC tournament won’t be released until after Tuesday’s matches. Class 5A No. 4 Iowa City High looked like the superior team in the league before injuries started to hit. Michaela Nelson did not play in the Little Hawks’ three-set loss to Iowa City West last week.

City High (22-7) has lost four of its last seven matches heading into Tuesday’s battle with Waterloo East. The Little Hawks are one of three teams in the Mississippi Division with one league loss — 5A No. 3 Dubuque Hempstead (21-4) and No. 10 Iowa City West (16-11) are the others.

Cedar Rapids Xavier (20-9), the seventh-rated team in 4A, is the Valley Division leader.

Kennedy will host two pools; Xavier will host the other two. The championship bracket will be at Kennedy; the consolation bracket at Xavier.

Class 2A fourth-ranked West Branch (32-3) is the favorite in the Cedar Valley Conference tournament. Edgewood-Colesburg (21-5), Cascade (17-8) and Starmont (18-5) headline the Tri-Rivers field while Charles City (31-1) and Waverly-Shell Rock (36-6) — ranked second and fourth in 4A — are co-favorites at the NEIC event.

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