Cedar Falls marches back to 5A state volleyball championship match

5A semifinal: No. 1 Tigers oust Linn-Mar in straight sets

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Megan Renner and Carly Spies walked into the media room for postmatch interviews, their heads high and a hint of a smile.

There were no regrets. And this was no disgrace: Linn-Mar lost to a superior team.

Top-ranked Cedar Falls marched back to the Class 5A championship match, sweeping the fifth-rated Lions, 25-13, 25-18, 25-15, in a semifinal at the state volleyball tournament Thursday morning at the U.S. Cellular Center.

“It’s hard to compete with that,” Renner said. “They’re so good at every single position, and they got the best of us.”

Last year’s runner-up, Cedar Falls (42-2) returns to the championship match. The Tigers will face No. 2 West Des Moines Valley at 10 a.m. Friday. Valley (41-7) took down No. 3 Ankeny Centennial — the three-time defending champion — in straight sets Thursday.

“It’s not often that you walk off the court with such a sour taste as we had last year, and you get another chance,” Cedar Falls Coach Matt Johnson said. “We were still facing the wow factor last year.”

The Tigers, simply, are loaded, with four Division-I signees.

“We’re just happy that we get this chance to redeem ourselves,” said setter Tayah Mahi, who dished out 29 assists.

Cynthia Wolf posted 10 kills. Sophomore Akacia Brown added nine.

Linn-Mar retired at 31-11. After a rough first set, the Lions had their moments. They rallied from a six-point deficit to forge at 16-all tie in the second set and led the third, 6-3.

But in the end, Cedar Falls was simply too good.

“They don’t have a weak rotation or a weak position,” Lions Coach Teresa Bair said. “We’d score a point here and a point there, and they’d get two or three, and you’d look up and we’d be down by five, six, seven points.”

Spies said, “You can’t focus on one or two girls with them, and you can’t let them go on a run. But we fought, we really fought.”

Like Mahi, Spies will be at UNI next season. She led the Lions with 10 kills. Ellie Von Lehmden added six, and Renner accumulated 20 assists.

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

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