CEDAR RAPIDS — Redemption Road had a bump or two. But it’s still paved. And it’s still open for traffic.
Abby Saehler made major contributions at the net and the service stripe alike, and fourth-ranked Iowa City High drove past No. 5 West Des Moines Dowling, 26-24, 20-25, 25-16, 25-22, in a Class 5A quarterfinal at the state volleyball tournament Wednesday afternoon at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena.
“It feels amazing to be back,” Saehler said. “We want to get redemption, and it feels great to get the first one out of the way.”
The Little Hawks (30-8) will face No. 1 Ankeny in a semifinal at noon Friday. The Hawkettes (30-6) swept Johnston on Wednesday.
City High was stopped short of its dream last year, falling to Iowa City West in last year’s state final.
This year’s team was slowed by midseason injuries. Now, the Little Hawks are healthy. And dangerous.
“It’s a different team,” City Coach Craig Pitcher said. “But we’ve been here before, and I think that helped, particularly in the first set.”
Dowling (33-11) was making its first state appearance. The Maroons led the first game, 24-23, before Saehler took over.
She swatted a kill to tie the set. Then, she went to the back row and served an ace for the lead. A Dowling error ended the game.
Saehler had five aces in the first game, six in the match. She also led the Little Hawks with 14 kills and posted a nifty .429 kill efficiency.
“I’ve been working on my topspin (serve), and maybe I hit it harder than it seems,” she said.
Dowling scored five straight points to break a 19-all tie in the second set, but the Little Hawks responded.
They led Game 3 most of the way, then pulled away in the second half of Game 4.
Rachel Rinehart had two kills and a block in a four-point run that gave City High a 20-15 lead, and the Maroons got no closer than two points again.
“Today was just a lot of fun,” Rinehart said. “It was nice getting back here, and we worked well together tonight.”
Rinehart added 12 kills, Michaela Nelson 11. Ruth Grace posted 38 assists.
Elise Brown led Dowling with 15 kills.