CEDAR RAPIDS — The Mount Vernon Mustangs had an opportunity. An opening.
Alexis Conaway closed it with authority.
Conaway delivered 32 kills — including a few in a key run late in the third set — as third-rated MOC-Floyd Valley fought past No. 10 Mount Vernon, 22-25, 25-18, 27-25, 25-15, in a Class 3A semifinal at the state volleyball tournament Friday afternoon at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena.
“She’s got great arm speed, great placement,” Mount Vernon Coach Maggie Willems said. “She’s hard to defend.”
The Mustangs tried, but they weren’t big enough to block her. And their reliable floor defense could only do so much.
“It was frustrating,” said Mustangs libero Marissa Stark. “We stuck with it the best we could, but they definitely had the hitters.”
MOC-Floyd Valley (32-8) will play No. 7 Union for the championship at 2 p.m. Saturday. The Knights (35-7) upset No. 1 Mediapolis in three straight games Friday.
A stretch late in the third game was pivotal in the Dutch’s advancement. Mount Vernon (28-11) held a 20-14 lead and appeared headed for a 2-1 advantage in sets.
Then Conaway — a junior who has committed to Iowa State — came to the front row, and everything tilted MOC-Floyd Valley’s way.
She had a block and a kill in a five-point run as the Dutch took a 22-21 lead, then kills for MOC-Floyd Valley’s 23rd and 24th points.
Mount Vernon saved set points to tie it at 24-24 and 25-25, but Conaway closed the set with a kill, then an ace serve.
“We kept trusting in each other,” Conaway said. “We fought for every point. Mount Vernon had an awesome team defensively, and the big thing is to keep swinging.”
The Mustangs couldn’t recover from the lost opportunity.
“We really needed that third game,” Willems said. “We let the momentum go, we made some errors and that opened the door for them.”
An upset winner over No. 2 Davenport Assumption in the quarterfinals, Mount Vernon was sharp again in the early stages Friday. The Mustangs built a nice lead midway through the first game and held on.
But MOC-Floyd Valley had the hitters, building a 65-36 advantage in kills. Shelby Schouten added 13 kills, and Alyssa Brown contributed 58 assists.
Alli Platte led the Mustangs with nine kills.