Xavier lands its first No. 1 volleyball ranking

Saints bring back 5 starters from 4A state-semifinal team

Cedar Rapids Xavier's Rachel Sodawasser eyes the ball during a volleyball match last season. Sodawasser returns for the Saints, who begin the season ranked No. 1 in Class 4A. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Cedar Rapids Xavier's Rachel Sodawasser eyes the ball during a volleyball match last season. Sodawasser returns for the Saints, who begin the season ranked No. 1 in Class 4A. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

It’s a good place to start, Austin Filer acknowledged.

But, he said, “It only takes you so far.”

Cedar Rapids Xavier opens the volleyball season as the top-ranked team in Class 4A. It is the Saints’ first No. 1 volleyball tag in the 20-year existence of the program.

“It would be interesting to see how many teams that started the season No. 1 went on to finish that way,” said Filer, the Saints’ second-year coach. “We’ve got to keep working hard.”

Xavier was 32-10 last year and reached the 4A semifinals before bowing out to eventual champion Dubuque Wahlert. The Golden Eagles lost state player of the year Mackenzie May to graduation — she’s at UCLA now — and start at No. 2.

More: There's state title talk at Xavier

Defending champions Ankeny Centennial (5A) and Janesville (1A) also are No. 1 in their respective classes. Dike-New Hartford drops down from 3A to 2A, and edges defending 2A champ Western Christian for the top slot in that class.

Carroll Kuemper starts atop 3A.

Xavier brings back five starters from last year’s squad, led by first-team all-state pick Charlotte Richards. The Saints also will be aided by a dynamite crew of freshmen.

Pella, Sioux City Heelan and Charles City round out the 4A top five.

Centennial swept Cedar Falls in the 5A final last year, and the Jaguars and the Tigers open 1-2 in the big-school class. Hitters Kenna Sauer, Devyn Robinson and Ari Winters lead Centennial.


A semifinalist last year, West Des Moines Valley is No. 3, followed by Linn-Mar and West Des Moines Dowling. Despite a pedestrian 18-18 record in 2016, Cedar Rapids Jefferson starts at No. 8.

With three starters back, Kuemper is the heir apparent in 3A after Dike-New Hartford’s drop in class. The Knights were 29-2 and reached the 3A semifinals last year, and are followed by Osage, West Delaware, Waterloo Columbus and Tipton — the latter two which rise from 2A.

DNH and Western have combined for 27 state titles, and it’s a good possibility these giants will meet for the 2A title in November. The Wolverines will be spearheaded by the Petersen sisters; Western has three starters back led by middle hitter Ashtyn Veerbeek.

Grundy Center, Council Bluffs St. Albert and Unity Christian round out the top five in 2A.

Janesville has won three of the last four 1A titles, and the Wildcats welcome back hitters Bree Thompson and Kennedy Meister. Fort Madison Holy Trinity and Springville were 2016 semifinalists and rate 2-3, then it’s Starmont and LeMars Gehlen.


1. Ankeny Centennial (35-3)

2. Cedar Falls (40-4)

3. West Des Moines Valley (41-5)

4. Linn-Mar (33-9)

5. West Des Moines Dowling (27-16)

6. Bettendorf (20-12)

7. Dubuque Hempstead (23-11)

8. Cedar Rapids Jefferson (18-18)

9. Des Moines Roosevelt (31-20)

10. Johnston (26-13)

11. Urbandale (23-11)

12. Indianola (23-21)

13. Iowa City West (23-15)

14. Ankeny (38-6)

15. Pleasant Valley (19-13)


1. Cedar Rapids Xavier (32-10)

2. Dubuque Wahlert (28-6)

3. Pella (38-5)

4. Sioux City Heelan (35-9)

5. Charles City (37-6)

6. Lewis Central (30-9)

7. Waverly-Shell Rock (34-18)

8. Center Point-Urbana (24-16)

9. Adel ADM (23-11)

10. Fort Madison (22-10)

11. Independence (30-10)

12. Clinton (22-14)

13. Marion (34-10)

14. Fairfield (21-12)

15. Western Dubuque (22-15)


1. Carroll Kuemper (29-2)

2. Osage (23-12)

3. West Delaware (42-5)

4. Waterloo Columbus (29-13)

5. Tipton (25-10)

6. Sioux Center (34-5)

7. Red Oak (30-10)

8. Davenport Assumption (28-9)

9. Spirit Lake (30-9)

10. Dyersville Beckman (27-10)

11. Gilbert (31-9)

12. Mount Vernon (34-8)

13. Eddyville EBF (22-14)

14. South Central Calhoun (27-13)

15. West Liberty (16-18)


1. Dike-New Hartford (48-5)

2. Western Christian (41-6)

3. Grundy Center (25-17)

4. Council Bluffs St. Albert (27-5)

5. Unity Christian (35-5)

6. Sidney (33-4)

7. Sumner-Fredericksburg (33-6)

8. Jesup (21-14)

9. Hinton (24-9)

10. Pella Christian (25-13)

11. Lake Mills (41-1)

12. Treynor (28-7)

13. Des Moines Christian (19-13)

14. Wilton (32-6)

15. Belle Plaine (18-11)


1. Janesville (35-8)

2. Fort Madison Holy Trinity (36-3)

3. Springville (29-8)

4. Starmont (32-9)

5. LeMars Gehlen (25-12)

6. Algona Garrigan (17-17)

7. New London (28-10)

8. Montezuma (27-9)

9. Tripoli (16-19)

10. Iowa Valley (21-15)

11. Edgewood-Colesburg (28-12)

12. Lamoni (23-8)

13. Harris-Lake Park (21-16)

14. Bellevue Marquette (18-14)

15. Southeast Warren (19-11)

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



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