CEDAR RAPIDS — Next year, there will be Ankeny High and Ankeny Centennial.
“It’s different, kind of sad,” said Megan Ballenger. “This will be the last time I get to play with some of these girls. We’ve played together a long time.”
Right now, it’s Ankeny United.
The top-ranked Hawkettes swept Johnston in a Class 5A quarterfinal Wednesday at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena, delaying the end of an era as we know it. Next year, the fast-growing Des Moines suburb will split from one high school to two.
Students on the south side of town will continue as Ankeny Hawks and Hawkettes; north-siders will be Ankeny Centennial Jaguars.
“The real truth is that most of the coaching staff isn’t thinking about next year,” said Ankeny Coach Dave Whims. “We’re getting kids to focus on these next few days.”
It will split the team, basically down the middle. The two leading hitters are sophomores Ballenger (who will go to Ankeny High) and Jaali Winters (bound for Centennial).
Junior defensive specialist Kayla Aronow will become a Jaguar; libero Claire Wandrey will remain a Hawkette.
“At the lower levels, we’ve already divided the kids with where they’ll be next year,” Whims said. “The kids are prepared for what’s going to take place.”
But where will Whims coach? He has led Ankeny to four state titles and 11th straight state appearances.
“That hasn’t been decided yet,” said Whims, whose staff is grooming young players that will attend both schools — north-siders one day, south-siders another. “The faculty is deciding which school they want to go to, and the administration is in the process of compiling that.
“It would probably be all right if the administration said, ‘We want you to go here,’ and that’s where I’d go.”
For the time being, Whims is pushing his team for a run at a fifth title. The Hawkettes (30-6) will face Iowa City High or West Des Moines Dowling in a semifinal Friday.
“Our motto is, ‘One last chance to win a state title as one,’ ” Ballenger said.
A FLAWLESS FALL
Three teams — Dike-New Hartford, Lake Mills and Mediapolis — entered the tournament with undefeated records.
For two of them, perfection goes beyond volleyball.
DNH and Mediapolis are unbeaten this fall, in volleyball and football.
Both schools are 42-0 in volleyball, 12-0 in football. Mediapolis faces Iowa Falls-Alden in a Class 3A quarterfinal at noon Wednesday; Dike-New Hartford faces Sumner-Fredericksburg in a 2A first-rounder at 3 p.m.
The football playoffs have reached the semifinal stage at the UNI-Dome. DNH and Mediapolis play their semis Saturday — the Wolverines against Iowa City Regina in 1A, Mediapolis against Dyersville Beckman in 2A.
Other schools with state volleyball qualifiers and football semifinalists are Ankeny, Carroll Kuemper, Cedar Rapids Xavier, Council Bluffs St. Albert and Sioux City Heelan.
It’s a unique situation at Xavier. Volleyball coach Barb Sullivan is married to football assistant David Sullivan.