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CEDAR RAPIDS — Divisional champions. Conference champions.
Yeah, it’s been a memorable week for the Linn-Mar volleyball program.
For the second time in six days, the Class 5A fifth-ranked Lions swept 4A No. 2 Dubuque Wahlert in a high-stakes match. This time, it was in the championship match of the Mississippi Valley Conference tournament Saturday at Ron Thillen Gymnasium.
“It’s extremely exciting,” junior Carly Spies said. “Ever since Tuesday, we were looking forward to this tournament.”
Linn-Mar (31-8) captured its first MVC regular-season divisional title earlier in the week. And Saturday, they proved it was no fluke, as if there was any more proving that needed to be done.
“It further validates us,” Linn-Mar Coach Teresa Bair said. “Yes, we are good. Yes, we’re a top contender. Yes, we’re somebody that’s a force.”
In a conference as strong as the MVC, some bumps are expected during a long day. The Lions’ bumps were minor ones.
They dropped the first set in a pool match against Cedar Rapids Jefferson, then roared back. They lost the second set to Cedar Rapids Kennedy in the semifinals, but recovered to win the third, 15-6.
Then, in the championship match, they handled Wahlert, 25-15, 26-24.
Spies made the big plays at the end. At 23-23, her kill gave the Lions match point. Wahlert (23-6) tied it, but Spies answered with a kill, then an ace.
“I really wanted it,” she said. “We all did.”
Wahlert led only once in the final match, 20-19 in the second set. But Spies blocked Wahlert’s Mackenzie May — a UCLA recruit — then Megan Renner did likewise.
Astonishingly, this was Linn-Mar’s first tournament title of the season. The Lions had been runners-up four times, but this time, they closed the deal.
“Everything is coming together,” setter Ellie Anderson said. “Our bench, our crowd ... every little piece. Ever since we beat Iowa City West (early in the season), we realized how good we can play.”
Linn-Mar handled Dubuque Hempstead, 25-20, 25-20, in the quarterfinals, then downed Kennedy, 25-22, 18-25, 15-6, in the semifinals.
Wahlert eliminated both Iowa City teams in bracket play — City High (25-16, 25-20) in the quarterfinals, West (21-25, 25-17, 15-13) in the semis.
The quarterfinals were eventful — West (21-14) upset 5A No. 1 Cedar Falls, 21-25, 28-26, 15-9, and Kennedy (26-10) completed an improbable comeback, 20-25, 27-25, 19-17 over Cedar Rapids Prairie.
Kennedy trailed 12-1 and 20-7 in the second set, using a 10-point run to get within 21-20. They sidestepped three match points in the second set and four more in the third.
MISSISSIPPI VALLEY CONFERENCE VOLLEYBALL TOURNAMENT
At C.R. Xavier & C.R. Kennedy
Teams — 1. Linn-Mar 3-0, 2. Iowa City High 2-1, 3. C.R. Jefferson 1-2, 4. Dubuque Senior 0-3.
Iowa City High def. C.R. Jefferson, 21-17, 21-17
Linn-Mar def. Dubuque Senior, 21-6, 21-7
Iowa City High def. Dubuque Senior, 21-9, 21-19
Linn-Mar def. C.R. Jefferson, 17-21, 21-16, 15-11
C.R. Jefferswon def. Dubuque Senior, 21-18, 21-17
Teams — 1. Cedar Falls 3-0, 2. C.R. Prairie 2-1, 3. C.R. Xavier 1-2, 4. Waterloo West 0-3.
C.R. Prairie def. C.R. Xavier, 21-11, 21-18
Cedar Falls def. Waterloo West, 21-5, 21-17
C.R. Xavier def. Waterloo West, 21-9, 15-21, 15-5
Cedar Falls def. C.R. Prairie, 21-16, 21-17
C.R. Prairie def. Waterloo West, 21-7, 21-15
Cedar Falls def. C.R. Xavier, 21-11, 20-22, 15-8
Teams — 1. Dubuque Wahlert 3-0, 2. Dubuque Hempstead 2-1, 3. Waterloo East 0-3.
Dubuque Wahlert def. Waterloo East, 21-9, 21-12
Dubuque Hempstead def. Waterloo East, 21-15, 21-11
Dubuque Wahlert def. Dubuqque Hempstead, 21-14, 21-10
Teams — 1. C.R. Kennedy 3-0, 2. Iowa City West 1-2, 3. C.R. Washington 0-3.
C.R. Kennedy def. C.R. Washington, 21-17, 21-6
Iowa City West def. C.R. Washington, 21-8, 21-12
C.R. Kennedy def. Iowa City West, 22-20, 21-19
Pool C-D Crossovers
Dubuque Wahlert def. C.R. Washington, 21-6, 21-18
C.R. Kennedy def. Waterloo East, 21-18, 21-14
Dubuque Hempstead def. Iowa City West, 21-18, 25-23
C.R. Washington def. Waterloo West, 25-22, 25-22
Waterloo East def. Dubuque Senior, 27-25, 18-25, 15-12
C.R. Jefferson def. C.R. Washington, 25-21, 25-15
C.R. Xavier def. Waterloo East, 25-18, 25-17
C.R. Xavier def. C.R. Jefferson, 25-16, 25-23
Linn-Mar def. Dubuque Hempstead, 25-20, 25-20
C.R. Kennedy def. C.R. Prairie, 20-25, 27-25, 19-17
Iowa City West def. Cedar Falls, 21-25, 28-26, 15-9
Dubuque Wahlert def. Iowa City High, 25-16, 25-20
Linn-Mar def. C.R. Kennedy, 25-22, 18-25, 15-6
Dubuque Wahlert def. Iowa City West, 21-25, 25-17, 15-13
Linn-Mar def. Dubuque Wahlert, 25-15, 26-24
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