CEDAR RAPIDS — Two hours. Five sets. And multiple opportunities to wilt.
Cedar Rapids Kennedy refused.
The Cougars won a winner-take-all set for the first time in four tries this season, outlasting Class 4A No. 8 Cedar Rapids Xavier, 21-25, 25-21, 16-25, 25-21, 15-10, in a Mississippi Valley Conference cross-divisional volleyball match Tuesday night at Ron Thillen Gymnasium.
Recent history wasn’t on Kennedy’s side (the Cougars dropped their previous three matches that went to a rally-scored finale). Neither was the experience factor: Three sophomores and three freshmen played key roles.
“We just wanted to win so bad,” said Brinley Milbrath, a 6-foot-2 sophomore who overcame a fourth-set leg cramp to make some big plays at big times. “We wanted to win 42nd Street.
“The three sophomores — Anna (Fluent) and Macy (Anderson) and me — we’ve played together a while (with the Iowa Rockets). And the seniors, they have great leadership.”
Down two sets to one, Kennedy (8-6) led Game 4 from start to finish. Then the Cougars did it again in the finale.
Xavier (10-4) committed seven errors in the final set.
“You just can’t make than many mistakes in a game to 15,” said Saints Coach Krista Johnson. “You can’t get behind on errors, then trade points.”
Three of the miscues came in a six-point surge that gave Kennedy all sorts of breathing room at 12-5.
“Good win,” said Kennedy Coach Michelle Goodall. “Good win against a good team.
“We had a couple times we could have tanked it — Kendal (Meier) sprained an ankle, then Brinley had that leg cramp. But we hung in there.”
Milbrath’s kill put the Cougars up 17-8 in the fourth set, but she winced when she landed. It looked scary for a moment, but she mustered a smile as she was tended to by a trainer, and ultimately and stayed on the court.
“I guess I just need to eat more bananas,” she said.
Xavier pulled within 22-21, but the Cougars closed it out on a kill by Milbrath, an ace by Fluent and a block by Milbrath.
The teams collected 54 kills apiece, but Kennedy’s 11-5 advantage in blocks was key.
Erin Coker led the Cougars with 13 kills, followed by Jadyn Gilson (12) and Milbrath (10). Fluent notched 42 assists.
For the Saints, all-stater Kayla Torson posted 20 kills and six aces, and Madsy Richards added 14 kills. Britni Scholtes counted 50 assists.
CEDAR RAPIDS KENNEDY 3, CEDAR RAPIDS XAVIER 2
|Cedar Rapids Kennedy (8-6)||21||25||16||25||15|
|Cedar Rapids Xavier (10-4)||25||21||25||21||10|
Serving: Kennedy 93-99 (.939), Xavier 95-101 (.941)
Aces: Kennedy 9 (Brinley Milbrath, Paige Franck 3), Xavier 11 (Kayla Torson 6)
Kills: Kennedy 54 (Erin Coker 13), Xavier 54 (Torson 20)
Assists: Kennedy 49 (Anna Fluent 42), Xavier 51 (Britni Scholtes 50)
Blocks: Kennedy 11 (Nikki Dean 4), Xavier 5 (Kasey VandenBosch 3)
Anna Fluent, Brinley Milbrath, Cedar Rapids Kennedy, Cedar Rapids Xavier, Erin Coker, Jadyn Gilson, Kayla Torson, Krista Johnson, Macy Anderson, Madsy Richards, Michelle Goodall, Mississippi Valley Conference, Ron Thillen Gymnasium, Volleyball