CEDAR RAPIDS — Mikaela Foecke was going to get her kills.
The key, for Tripoli, was to get touches periodically and to make hay when she was in the back row.
The Panthers did both.
Courtney Anderson made two match-swinging blocks at the end of the second game, and third-ranked Tripoli defeated No. 2 Fort Madison Holy Trinity, 21-25, 26-24, 25-21, 25-20, in a Class 1A semifinal at the state volleyball tournament Friday night at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena.
“We knew (Foecke) was going to get her share,” said Tripoli’s Ashlen Damm, who put the match away with four kills and a block in the Panthers’ final push. “But we totally stepped up when we needed to.”
The Panthers (37-5) pursue their fifth straight 1A title at 6 p.m. Saturday. In their way is No. 1 Grundy Center (35-6), which defeated No. 4 Janesville in four sets Friday.
“We’re so excited,” Anderson said. “They’re a great team, and they’re not going to roll over. We’ve just got to keep fighting.”
Holy Trinity (44-5) controlled the match early, winning the first set and jumping to a 12-7 lead in the second. But, in Anderson’s words, the Panthers kept fighting.
A six-point run put Tripoli in front, 19-17. The Crusaders got even at 20-20, 22-22, then — after two straight kills by Foecke (the state leader in kills) — at 24-24.
Then Anderson stuffed Foecke. Then she did it again to give Tripoli the set.
“I don’t know how to explain it,” Anderson said. “You’ve just got to jump high.”
That’s where the pendulum swung. The third game was tied at 20, the fourth game at 19. Both times, Foecke was in the back row at the end, and the Panthers pounced.
Foecke finished with a match-high 23 kills, finishing her sophomore season with a state-high 624.
Damm paced Tripoli with 16 kills, followed by Bailey Kirchhoff (15) and Anderson (11).