CEDAR RAPIDS — It’s been in the back of their minds for a full year.
It can move forward now.
Second-ranked Western Christian earned the rematch is has coveted, rallying from a 22-13 deficit in the third game and sweeping No. 3 Carroll Kuemper, 25-14, 25-13, 25-23, in a Class 2A semifinal at the state volleyball tournament Friday night at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena.
“We just wanted to get the momentum back,” Western Coach Tammi Veerbeek said. “Even if we didn’t win (the third game), we wanted to get the momentum back for the next one.”
So the championship match that everyone expected is on. Western (43-3) meets No. 1 Dike-New Hartford (44-0) at 4 p.m. Saturday. Neither team has lost a match against Iowa competition.
The eighth-ranked team in the country (according to prepvolleyball.com), DNH swept Council Bluffs St. Albert on Friday, running its winning streak to 56 matches. One of them was a three-game victory over Western in last year’s 2A title match.
“It’s been looming in the back of our minds,” Veerbeek said. “We wanted another shot at them.
“No offense to (Dike-New Hartford) at all — they’re a great, great team — but we didn’t play well last year. We can’t play a B-plus match against them and win. It has to be an ‘A’.”
It wasn’t an “A” in Game 3 Friday, but it was an experience that might prove beneficial Saturday.
“We knew we had to get that first sideout,” said middle hitter Shae DeJager. “We had to get a sideout to get the momentum going.”
An ace by Abby Pollema concluded a nine-point run that got the Wolfpack even at 22-22. Kuemper (33-6) scored the next point before Western closed out the match.
Brooke Wolterstorff led the Wolfpack with 18 kills, and Jamie Gesink posted 31 assists. Western finished with 37 kills; Kuemper, meanwhile, had 24 kills and 24 attack errors.
And now, arguably the state’s two best teams meet for the championship of the second-smallest class.
“It’s been hard not to look ahead,” DeJager said. “We’re looking at them as just another team. We’re going to try hard to get this one.”