MARION - As the prep volleyball season nears the midway point, Cedar Rapids Xavier identified a vital ingredient if the Saints are to retain their No. 1 ranking in Class 4A.
Now is the time to turn up the defense.
The top-ranked Saints s ... »
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Iowa City Regina has waited for this opportunity for almost a year.
The Regals have been focused on a state tournament trek since last season came to a halt.
Regina takes on Mid-Prairie in an Iowa High School Athletic Association Class 2A district game at Cornell College’s Ash Park in Mount Vernon, starting at 5 p.m., as 1A and 2A teams from across the state begin the postseason Saturday. West Branch and West Liberty will play the nightcap.
The Regals lost by a run to state qualifier Mount Vernon in last year’s district final. They attempt to step closer to the state tournament at Principal Park in Des Moines at the end of the month.
“We have some key components of that team back,” Gahan said. “We also have a year of growth.”
Regina, which spent part of the season in the Iowa High School Baseball Coaches Association rankings, has won seven of its last nine games. The Regals (22-15) blanked Mid-Prairie (9-19) twice at the beginning of June, winning 6-0 and 15-0. Gahan said beating a team three times is tough, especially since Mid-Prairie was missing starters who were competing at the state soccer tournament.
“We faced them a long, long time ago,” Gahan said. “We’re not going to see the same Mid-Prairie team we did. They have some great athletes doing well since soccer.”
Losses to fourth-ranked Wilton and No. 9 Cascade are the only ones to 2A teams. They have looked to schedule tough competition from other classes to prepare them for the postseason. They have faced the top starters from 3A and 4A foes.
“We’ve seen some good pitching and hitting on the other side of the field,” Gahan said. “It has helped us.”
A deep postseason run relies on consistent pitching and defense. Gahan said Regal pitchers have to lower their pitch counts and fielders need to make routine plays. Timely hits will be key for Regina, which hits .314 as a team.
Everything from the first official practice has led to this moment.
“We played some tough teams through the course of the season,” Gahan said. “Our team is prepared mentally and physically.”
At Dyersville, Clayton Ridge/Central plays Bellevue in a district game at 5 p.m. followed by a contest between Cascade and MFL MarMac.
In 1A, Sigourney and Keota will compete at Pekin for a district semifinal spot.
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