Western Christian sweeps Grundy Center to return to 2A state volleyball final

Wolfpack get fellow perennial power Dike-New Hartford in title match

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CEDAR RAPIDS – When Ashtyn Veerbeek charted her high school volleyball aspirations, it invariably included a specific date for her final match.

Just as she hoped, that match will be in the state championship, her fourth-consecutive appearance alongside her mother and coach, Tammi Veerbeek.

“It’s incredible,” the Western Christian senior and Nebraska basketball signee said after recording 13 kills for the second-ranked Wolfpack in a 25-16, 25-21, 25-21, sweep of No. 3 Grundy Center in a Class 2A state semifinal Thursday at the U.S. Cellular Center. “I’ve always gone to all her stuff and grown up around the game and being in this last one, knowing this will be my last one with her, it was a goldmine to know when my last game was going to be. It’s an awesome feeling to know that tomorrow is it.”

Western Christian (39-6) will play for a third-straight 2A state title against top-ranked Dike-New Hartford (49-3), which swept Council Bluffs St. Albert in its semifinal.

“This was our goal all along,” Tammi Veerbeek said. “We know we’ve got a powerhouse waiting for us. To play in the biggest stage in high school sports, it’s unmatched.”

This will be the seventh time since 2007 that Western Christian and Dike-New Hartford have played for the state championship, including four wins in a row by Dike-New Hartford from 2011-14.

“We could play them 20 times and we might only beat them once, but maybe that one time will be tomorrow,” Tammi Veerbeek said.

Six-foot-1 senior Jessi De Jager led the Wolfpack with 15 kills, while sophomore Olivia Granstra added 21 assists and 10 digs.

“We brought lots of energy and fire,” De Jager said. “We served tough and passed well and our defense traded our offense. We got some digs. We knew they had some big hitters.”

Junior outside hitter Hailey Wallis led Grundy Center (37-7) with nine kills, while junior middle hitter Kylie Willis added seven.

“It is really tough because they (Western Christian) can do a bunch of different things,” Grundy Center Coach Lori Willis said. “They got most of their kills off of tips. You really don’t see that too often. They were tipping the ball and putting the ball where we weren’t and that is really tough to defend.”

l Comments: douglas.miles@thegazette.com

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