CEDAR RAPIDS – As soon as you thought you knew something that would be of value to the final result of a Tuesday night power surge, Jordan Calef slammed a volleyball in your face.
For example, if you thought Kennedy couldn’t beat West, you were wrong.
On senior night at the Cougar Den, Kennedy edged West in five sets (22-25, 25-23, 25-16, 16-25, 15-12).
The Cougars (17-11, 3-2) denied the Women of Troy (16-12, 4-2) at least a share of the division title after watching West deny everything Kennedy threw at it in the first set. West won the first on the strength of six blocks, but Kennedy had success with adjusting its strategy.
“We had to move it around and not make it quite so easy [to block],” Kennedy coach Michelle Goodall said. “In this particular match-up, we’re really even. We’ve grown a lot in terms of understanding match-ups.”
Kennedy won the first seven points of the second set – so much for momentum – only to see its lead cut completely away. At 16-16 of the second set, Calef, officially headed to the University of Sioux Falls, asserted her power on the match with a gargantuan kill – one of her 20 for the evening. Kennedy saw another lead slip away late in the second but won the last three points to win the set.
“[Calef] came back with some really, you know, strong attacks too,” Goodall said. “And I think that takes the wind out of your sails too…I think she was really sharp today.”
The Kennedy senior was dominant in the third set, winning three of four straight Cougar points and cramming home two of her three total blocks to help the home team roll in the third.
But again, just as you thought you saw the court tilting, it righted itself.
West put the second and third behind it and roared back in the fourth behind Laynie Whitehead and Hannah Fairfield’s attack. West won 12 of 16 points in the middle of the set and only trailed once while tying up the match.
But then in the fifth Alexis Rogers notched four of her 19 kills – mostly from the middle – and helped Kennedy stave off West to win 15-12.
“This is unusual for West/Kennedy to only match-up one time,” Goodall said. “Usually it’s many times. Honestly, they’ve had the upper hand for the last two years or three or five or 10…I don’t know, it feels like forever.”
West had beaten Kennedy in the last three state semifinals, so the Cougar seniors got a bit of redemption Tuesday night, even if it was just a regular season contest.
“It’s big for the seniors who’ve gone through those last couple years of losing 15-12 in the fifth set,” Goodall added.