CEDAR RAPIDS – Michelle Goodall wore a black warmup jacket while she coached from the sideline. On the right sleeve, read “State ’08.” Stitched below it, “State ’09.” Two more followed including ’09 and ’10.
This isn’t the Cedar Rapids Kennedy head coach’s first go around in the state tournament and it’s the same for her team.
Monday night at home in the Class 5A volleyball quarterfinals against Marshalltown, the Cougars need that experience, whether they liked it or not.
“I don’t want to rely on the experience,” Goodall said. “We just came out a little bit short.”
In all three sets Kennedy fell behind early, but eventually emerged victorious sweeping Marshalltown (25-23, 25-23, 30-28).
“We just have it in our hearts that we want to win,” Kennedy senior Jordan Calef said. “The past four years we’ve gone to state so we’re just trying to get back into that.”
It took a little while for the Cougars to get back into the playoff groove. In opening set, the home team fell behind 12-6, before rolling into a 12-3 run that propelled a first set win. The second, saw much of the same, but even later. The Cougars had a stranglehold on the set with a 11-6 advantage. Marshalltown battled back to take a 20-16 lead.
Again Kennedy kick it into gear, closing the set out on a 9-3 run.
“I think the feeling was, it’s just a match. Don’t worry about the points. Just play your game. Just do your job on the court,” Calef said. “We had gone over a lot of what was going to come at us so we knew, who was going to hit what. So we were just preparing ourselves for what we knew and it helped a lot.”
It only did so much though. Marshalltown’s Eisha Oden single-handedly kept the Bobcats close. In the third set facing three straight match points, Oden came up with back-to-back-to-back kills.
“She’s a force,” Goodall said. “It’s hard to defend her. She’s a good player.”
Oden wasn’t enough to beat a veteran team by herself. The Cougars had three players finish with nine kills. Calef, senior Lexi Rogers and junior Erin Coker all reached the plateau. Senior Bre Boote paced the offense with 26 assists and junior Madi Meier led the team with 15 digs.
It was one more three set sweep for an experience bunch, looking for another trip to state. But all the experience doesn’t mean the still aren’t learning things.
“It’s absolutely fine. Have it happen as long as it ended up as a win, it’s fine,” Goodall said. “It’s all experience. That’s what you get when in matches you’re not excited about. Defeats this time of season, you can’t have those but, we’re going to work this into a learning experience for our next matches.”