CEDAR RAPIDS – The No. 2 team in the state arrived at the Cedar Rapid Ice Arena lacking a piece of what got it to the state volleyball tournament. Pleasant Valley motioned through the first set against Urbandale that resulted in a 25-19 loss.
More than the loss, the biggest concern was the lack of energy.
“Those are the exact words we used, ‘We definitely need to find our swag,’” Pleasant Valley senior Chloe Miller said. “We’re No. 2 in the state. We need to show it. We’re a good team. We need to show it and that’s exactly what we did.”
The Spartans did just that, winning the final three sets, all while performing their token dance, the “Bernie.”
The reason Pleasant Valley could so easily flip its switch is because the Spartans had been there before. In the regional final against Cedar Rapids Washington, they feel behind two sets to none, but battle back to win the fifth. So Wednesday’s one set deficit was nothing.
“It was exactly like the Cedar Rapids match. I mean it started that way,” Miller said. “We recognized it and fixed it by the end of the first game.”
The Spartans showed some life at the end of the first set. In between sets, head coach Stacey Ruff told her team to feed off the momentum built. The player Ruff needed Miller to turn it on the most.
Miller was a different player in the final three sets, recording six kills in the second and four more in the third, a blowout 23-11 win for the Spartans. When Miller starts clicking the team follows.
“If Chloe can take care of herself and just play the way she knows how to play, the team just kind of responds,” Ruff said. “If she doesn’t get off to that kind of great start, we’re kind of that dodo bird effect and they follow her in the wrong direction.”
Megan Paustian fed off Miller’s energy the most. The senior tallied seven kills in the final set. At one point the middle hitter killed five of seven points.
Fittingly, Miller put away the match point. Urbandale got a hand on it, but like it had done all night, couldn’t stop Miller. That is once she got her swag back.
“I think we officially got all the nerves and jitters out of the way. If we just calm down, it’s just an