Need evidence of Metro volleyball parity?
Item of Proof No. 1 came Tuesday night, when Cedar Rapids Kennedy had to fight off three match points before outlasting Cedar Rapids Jefferson in a five-setter.
“Our backs were against the wall, that’s for sure,” said Kennedy Coach Michelle Goodall. “In the locker room after our matches, I have the girls give me one-word sound bites, to get a pulse on our post-match feelings.
“They used words like ‘overconfident’ and ‘lucky.’
One thing is for certain: Nothing is certain when Metro teams collide. From 1 to 7, the margin is razor-thin.
Not long ago, a Kennedy-Jefferson match was a mismatch, a guaranteed sweep. Now it’s a dogfight, like any combination of Cedar Rapids/Marion teams.
In three successive Tuesdays, Kennedy has needed five sets to defeat Xavier, Washington and Jefferson. Xavier edged Washington in five on Tuesday.
“Everybody is so much better in town,” Goodall said. “Athletes are better now. They’re starting to play at a younger age.”
Good luck trying to determine a pecking order with these teams.
At 19-7, MVC Valley Division leader Xavier has been the most consistent team in town, and has the best record. On the other hand, the Saints have suffered losses to Linn-Mar, Kennedy and Marion.
Kennedy (11-9) has the most tradition (four straight trips to the state semifinals, 2008-11) and a 3-0 mark against the Metro. The Cougars have played 11 matches against 4A and 5A top-10 teams, posting a 4-7 mark against elite competition.
Linn-Mar (15-10) is making fast progress under first-year coach Teresa Kehe. Same with Jefferson (8-12) under Mary Kay Van Oort — the J-Hawks have long since surpassed their win total (four) from last year.
With Dani Franklin and Aleena Hobbs, Washington (9-10) might have the most dangerous hitting combo, and Prairie (6-6) is always fundamentally sound. Marion (15-8) upset Xavier to win its home invitational Sept. 21, then followed that with another title at Wellman on Saturday.
“Everybody’s pretty much on even terms, more so than any time (previously) in my 15 years,” Goodall said. “We really get a lot more out of our matches. It used to be, we had to amp up our Saturday tournament schedule.”
AREA STAT LEADERS
Jefferson sophomore Amanda Ollinger ranks second in the state in kills per set, at 5.85.
Lindsey Peterson of West Fork is the state leader at 6.18 kills per game.
Other area statistical leaders are Hobbs in kill efficiency (.428, 14th in the state), Williamsburg’s Claire Simmons in aces (1.21 per game, second), Kiley Coppock of Linn-Mar is digs (7.58, third) and Dani Kunz of HLV in blocks (1.97, third).
FRIDAY’S THE DAY
The Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union will release regional pairings Friday.
Regionals begin Oct. 22 in Class 1A, Oct. 23 in 2A, Oct. 28 in 3A, 4A and 5A. Regional finals are Nov. 5 in the largest three classes, Nov. 6 in 1A and 2A.
The state tournament is Nov. 12-15 at the U.S. Cellular Center.
Aleena Hobbs, Amanda Ollinger, Cedar Rapids Jefferson, Cedar Rapids Kennedy, Cedar Rapids Prairie, Cedar Rapids Washington, Cedar Rapids Xavier, Claire Simmons, Dani Kunz, Kiley Coppock, Linn-Mar, Marion, Michelle Goodall, notes, Volleyball