CEDAR RAPIDS — They’ve gotten where they wanted to go, by beating the team they most wanted to beat.
Seventh-ranked Bettendorf pulled its second straight upset at the state volleyball tournament, knocking off neighborhood archrival Pleasant Valley, 25-23, 26-28, 25-13, 25-18, in a Class 5A semifinal Friday afternoon at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena.
“They’re our biggest rival in every sport,” said Bulldogs junior Anna Willey. “We hang out with them a lot, but when we’re on the court, we are not friends.”
The Bulldogs (22-11) advance to Saturday’s championship opposite Iowa City High, at 10 a.m. The Little Hawks (31-8) knocked off No. 1 Ankeny in four sets Friday.
“They’re a good team, and I hope everybody picks them to beat us,” Willey said. “We seem to play better that way.”
Bettendorf had lost twice this season to No. 2 Pleasant Valley (38-2), which saw its 34-match winning streak go by the wayside.
After the teams split the first two sets Friday, though, Bettendorf was the superior squad.
“We had been such an up-and-down team during the season, but right now, we’re playing with a lot of confidence,” said Bettendorf Coach Diane Lichtenberg. “We felt all along that we had the ability, but we didn’t put it together.
“Now, we have.”
Bettendorf took down No. 3 Dubuque Hempstead in a five-set thriller Wednesday, then rode the underdog role again Friday.
The Bulldogs established control immediately after Pleasant Valley won the second set. Bettendorf scored the first six points of Game 3, and led the whole way.
In Game 4, the Spartans rallied from a 7-2 deficit, breaking even by mid-set, then pulling away for good.
“We never gave up. We persevered,” Willey said. “We refused to get completely down.”
Bettendorf owned a slim advantage in kills (49-47), but the big difference was Pleasant Valley’s erratic behavior at the net. The Spartans were victimized by 26 hitting errors, compared to 11 by the Bulldogs.
Caitlin Wernentin led the Bulldogs with 15 kills. Danielle Pennington added 14, Willey 11.
Chloe Miller paced Pleasant Valley with 18 kills.