MARION — Cedar Rapids Xavier whipped Marion in pool play, and appeared to be on the same path in the championship match.
Then, something changed. And it changed drastically.
“Our hearts finally came out,” said Marion setter Amanda Sahm.
The Class 4A 12th-ranked Indians rallied from a one-set deficit to upset No. 8 Xavier, 14-25, 25-20, 15-13, capturing the Marion Invitational volleyball tournament title Saturday afternoon.
Marion (10-7) reversed an earlier loss to the Saints (14-5), scoring the final three points to erase a 13-12 deficit. Olivia Frazier’s block gave the Indians match point, then Stephanie Hedtke added another block to close it out and keep the championship trophy from leaving the Marion campus.
“Doing this, it just shows how much we wanted it,” said Marion’s Alyssa Thomas, who posted 12 kills and a pair of blocks in the final match. “We got behind, but we got down to what we needed to do.”
Xavier’s Kayla Torson was untouchable early, collecting nine kills in the first set. She was held to five in the final two sets.
“I think we did a good job of slowing her down,” Thomas said. “Hopefully, we showed them they couldn’t set her all the time.”
The Saints handled Marion, 21-12, 21-16, in pool play, and the teams finished first and second in Pool A. Marion downed Class 2A No. 8 Grundy Center (14-2), 28-26, 25-16, in the semifinals while Xavier beat 3A No. 2 Union (11-5), 25-18, 25-16.
Xavier scored eight of the first nine points of the championship match and led the first set 15-4 before cruising in the opener.
“It’s like I tell the girls — one game is not two, and two is not three,” said Xavier Coach Krista Johnson. “You have to focus the whole match, and I think we lost some focus because the first game was 25-14. We knew they would fight because they’re a good team and because they were at home.”
The Saints had leads of 12-9 and 16-14 in the second set. Both times, the Indians answered with five-point runs.
Three straight kills by Madsy Richards brought Xavier within 21-20, but three consecutive Xavier errors brought Marion to set point, then Sahm’s ace evened the match.
“Early in the match, I think we were scared to lose,” said Marion Coach Roxanne Paulsen. “The second game, we started to relax and focus on the ball.”
Neither team led the third game by more than two points. It was tied at 10, 11, 12 and 13 before Marion prevailed at the end.
“It was awesome,” Sahm said. “It was amazing. The younger players began to relax, and it was fun.”
Johanna Steggall added six kills for Marion. Sahm distributed 24 assists.
For Xavier, Richards collected 11 kills to complement Torson’s 14. Britni Scholtes, who Johnson said was slowed by “a tendon in her knee that’s pulled a little,” shared setting duties with Emma Barta. They combined for 30 assists.
MARION INVITATIONAL VOLLEYBALL TOURNAMENT
Pool A — 1. C.R. Xavier 3-0, 2. Marion 2-1, 3. Cascade 1-2, 4. North Linn 0-3.
Marion def. North Linn, 21-12, 21-9
C.R. Xavier def. Cascade, 21-11, 21-16
Marion def. Cascade, 21-11, 21-14
C.R. Xavier def. North Linn, 21-7, 21-13
C.R. Xavier def. Marion, 21-12, 21-16
Cascade def. North Linn, 21-19, 21-16
Pool B — 1. Grundy Center 3-0, 2. Union 2-1, 3. Benton Community 1-2, 4. Durant 0-3.
Union def. Benton Community, 21-11, 21-15
Grundy Center def. Durant, 21-13, 21-17
Union def. Durant, 21-9, 21-11
Grundy Center def. Benton Community, 21-6, 21-10
Grundy Center def. Union, 21-14, 16-21, 15-11
Benton Community def. Durant, 21-12, 21-19
Benton Community def. North Linn, 25-21, 25-13
Cascade def. Durant, 17-25, 25-22, 15-11
Cascade def. Benton Community, 25-23, 25-17
C.R. Xavier def. Union, 25-18, 25-16
Marion def. Grundy Center, 28-26, 25-16
Marion def. C.R. Xavier, 14-25, 25-20, 15-13