SPORTS

3A volleyball loaded with strength in Eastern Iowa

Final top 5 includes Union, DNH, West Delaware, Mount Vernon

Union's Megan Hudson (13) attacks in the 2013 state volleyball tournament. Hudson is a senior now, and among the state's top hitters. The top-ranked Knights host Vinton-Shellsburg in a Class 3A regional quarterfinal Wednesday. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Union's Megan Hudson (13) attacks in the 2013 state volleyball tournament. Hudson is a senior now, and among the state's top hitters. The top-ranked Knights host Vinton-Shellsburg in a Class 3A regional quarterfinal Wednesday. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

West Delaware is down a class. Dike-New Hartford is up.

And as a result, Class 3A is a beast.

“It has definitely become one of the toughest classes in the state,” said Union Coach Brian Jesse, whose team ascended to No. 1 in the final 3A rankings. “Dike is a perennial power. West Delaware, too. And the other teams that were already here are pretty strong, too.”

Regionals have arrived in 3A, as well as Class 4A and Class 5A. Union (35-4) takes a 13-match winning streak into its first-round encounter with Vinton-Shellsburg (8-23) Wednesday. First serve is at 7 p.m.

The folks at the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union had a challenge in splitting the 3A powerhouses in Eastern Iowa. Dike-New Hartford is ranked second, West Delaware third, Mount Vernon fifth.

West Delaware won the 4A state title last year. Dike-New Hartford was a four-time 2A champion between 2011 and 2014.

Yes, they’re all in different regions, but it makes for some interesting geography. For instance, Union might have to face somebody like Eddyville EBF in a regional final while Mount Vernon might draw someone like Davis County.

“No doubt, we’ll have to see somebody we haven’t played before,” Jesse said. “Give the state credit; they did a great job splitting the top teams. They want to see the top teams at the state tournament, and that’s the way it should be.”

Union has an impressive resume. The Knights split matches with Linn-Mar, beat Marion three times, and won the powerful East Division of the North Iowa Cedar League. Megan Hudson ranks fifth in the state in kills (5.27 per set), and Maggie Driscol is fifth in assists (10.26 per set).

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West Delaware (40-4) hosts Oelwein (12-23) Wednesday, and Mount Vernon (30-7) entertains Solon (8-26).

All of the Metro 5A and 4A teams begin postseason play next Tuesday.

CLASS 5A REGIONAL QUARTERFINALS

(All matches, 7 p.m.)

Region 4

Southeast Polk at Des Moines Roosevelt

Region 5

Des Moines North at Indianola

Region 6

Ottumwa at Burlington

Region 7

Dubuque Senior at Waterloo West

Region 8

Davenport West at Davenport Central

CLASS 4A REGIONAL QUARTERFINALS

(All matches, 7 p.m.)

Region 5

Mason City at Decorah

Waterloo East at Benton Community

Region 6

Newton at Grinnell

Oskaloosa at Fairfield

Region 7

DeWitt Central at Maquoketa

Western Dubuque at Clear Creek Amana

Region 8

Keokuk at Fort Madison

Washington at North Scott

CLASS 3A REGIONAL QUARTERFINALS

(All matches, 7 p.m.)

Region 5

Vinton-Shellsburg at Union

South Tama at East Marshall

Chariton at Centerville

Monroe PCM at Eddyville EBF

Region 6

Oelwein at West Delaware

North Fayette Valley at Waukon

Clear Lake at Osage

Crestwood at New Hampton

Region 7

West Liberty at Davenport Assumption

Northeast at Camanche

Anamosa at Dyersville Beckman

Monticello at Center Point-Urbana

Region 8

Solon at Mount Vernon

Mid-Prairie at Williamsburg

West Burlington at Central Lee

Albia at Davis County

l Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

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