CEDAR RAPIDS — They were six hours away from home, making their state-tournament debut against one of the greatest dynasties in Iowa volleyball history.
And the Central Lyon Lions didn’t shudder.
The fourth-ranked Lions spotted No. 7 Tripoli the first set, then proceeded to end the Panthers’ five-year title run with a 22-25, 25-20, 25-23, 25-23 victory in a Class 1A quarterfinal Wednesday night at the U.S. Cellular Center.
“We tried not to be nervous, but we were,” said Ashley Vande Stouwe. “We got it going a little too late in the first (set). We knew they would come out pushing, and we were ready for that.”
Central Lyon (28-6) faces another Iowa Star Conference giant — No. 2 Janesville — in a semifinal at 6 p.m. Thursday.
“We’ll enjoy this for an hour, maybe two,” said libero Angel Rasmussen. “Then we’ll get back to business.”
Tripoli (24-15) was bidding to match the state’s all-time record of consecutive championships — six, by Dubuque Wahlert. The Panthers have won 11 titles, all since 1999. That might make this year’s relatively early exit sound like a disappointment.
Not so, said Tripoli Coach Will Baumann.
“That was another team, another time,” he said. “The last couple years, getting to state was a relief more than an accomplishment. What this team did, this year … I’m proud of them.”
After the Panthers took the first set, Central Lyon controlled play most of the rest of the way.
The Lions led the second set 23-12 before the Panthers made a late rush. And they forced the Panthers to chase them in the third and fourth games.
Set point in Game 3 and match point in Game 4 were decided on errant Tripoli serves.
“We had a lot of errors. The serves were the most obvious ones, but there were a lot of smaller ones that added up,” Baumann said. “It just wasn’t our night.”
Tripoli was victimized by 28 attack errors.
Yes, Central Lyon was making its state-volleyball debut, but it would be incorrect to call the Lions a bunch of wide-eyed rookies. Central Lyon is the reigning 1A state basketball champion.
Sarah Halse led the Lions with 16 kills. Vande Stouwe added 13.
“We knew they went with a single block a lot,” Vande Stouwe said. “We really tried to go at that.”
Elizabeth Seehase and Toni Moeller had 13 kills apiece for the Panthers.