CEDAR RAPIDS – Linn-Mar’s loss was certainly MOC-Floyd Valley’s gain.
Alexis Conaway and her family lived in the Linn-Mar school district until moving when she was in fourth grade. All she has done since then is develop into one of the state’s top all-around athletes winning a state high jump championship earlier this year as a sophomore.
Now she has a team championship as well.
Conaway pounded home 30 kills as the Dutch (33-8) rallied from a 14-11 fifth-game deficit to overcome Union, 25-14, 23-25, 25-21, 19-25, 17-15, in the Class 3A championship match Saturday at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena.
Union, making its third straight state trip, finished at 35-8.
The state title was the first in volleyball since MOC-Floyd Valley opened as a consolidated school in 1990 and it didn’t come easily.
“We just hung in there,” said Conaway, who has committed to play volleyball at Iowa State. “We just had the determination to stick it out. Everybody on our team pushed and that made the difference.”
MOC-Floyd Valley Coach Jon Mouw said his reaction to the state title was one of relief and astonishment.
“I thought, ‘Oh my God, we did it,’” he said. “These girls play so hard and they never give up. I don’t know what else I can say.”
Ironically, for all her front-row heroics, Conaway was in the back as the Dutch rallied to tie. She moved to the front with the score tied 15-15, but it was her teammates, namely junior Shelby Schouten, who came up big. Schouten’s kill after a back and forth point brought the Dutch to match point, before the winning point dropped to the floor as the Union players scrambled unsuccessfully to get the ball.
“We all have faith in each other, every play out there,” Conaway said. “No matter where I am on the court I want to help my teammates in any way I can.”
Understandably, the Union players and coaches took the loss hard. They were a semifinalist last year and knew they had what it took to come away with a state title.
“We fought back in Game 4 and gave ourselves a chance in Game 5,” said Union Coach Brian Jesse. “We knew it was going to be close. They made a couple of plays at the end and that ended up being the difference.”
Conaway was named the captain of the all-tournament team. She was joined by teammates Schoulten and Alyssa Brown. Union’s Sam Barz and Breann Bader along with Mediapolis’ Heidi Hillyard rounded out the team.