116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
WILTON - The blocks that show up in the stats are the ones that lead directly to a point.
The ones that don't are just as important. And just as frequent for the West Branch Bears.
No. 8 West Branch controlled the net, getting tips and touches with regularity in a Class 2A regional-final volleyball sweep of No. 10 Durant, 25-16, 25-12, 25-18, Wednesday night at Wilton High School.
'That was the game plan,” said Maddy Russell. 'Big blocks, big swings.”
And a big win for the Bears (34-5), who will make their second appearance at the state volleyball tournament next week. They'll face No. 1 Dike-New Hartford - the three-time defending champion - Wednesday at the U.S. Cellular Center.
'We'll be ready,” said sophomore Abby Knoop. 'We know they're a great team. We'll work hard and do the best we can.”
The victory was the Bears' third straight - all by sweep - against Durant (28-7) this season. There wasn't a lot of drama in this 64-minute contest.
When Durant hitter Shannon Telsrow was in the back row, the Bears made hay. Long runs of points were plentiful in each of the three sets.
West Branch collected 10 blocks to one for the Wildcats. The ace margin was 10-1, as well. Put those two telling margins together, and you've got yourself a mismatch.
'We really take pride in controlling the net with our block,” said Bears Coach Josh Lukavsky. '(Telsrow) really did a number on us there for a while in the third set. But we're so balanced, it's hard to keep up with us sometimes.”
The first set was tight for the opening stages. West Branch owned a slim 14-13 lead before opening it up with a six-point run and winning it going away.
Game 2 was a rout, with the Bears scoring 17 of the first 20 points. West Branch rallied from a 10-5 deficit in the third set, outscoring the Wildcats, 10-1 and rolling from there. Haley Poula's team-high 10th kill wrapped it up.
West Branch made its state debut in 2012, then fell to Iowa City Regina in a five-set thriller in last year's regional finals.
'I wasn't here yet when they made it last time,” said Knoop, a sophomore. 'We worked really hard for this. I'm really proud of us.”
Russell added eight kills, Knoop seven. Knoop and Bailey Lukavsky registered three blocks apiece.
Telsrow had 13 kills, including seven in the final set, for Durant.
WEST BRANCH 3, DURANT 0 (25-16, 25-12, 25-18)
Class 2A Regional Final, at Wilton
Serving: West Branch 70-74 (.946), Durant 41-48 (.854); Aces: West Branch 10 (Haley Poula, Allyson Simpson 3), Durant 2 (Jaclyn Ralfs, Shannon Telsrow); Kills: West Branch 35 (Poula 10), Durant 29 (Telsrow 13); Assists: West Branch 31 (Simpson 16), Durant 25 (J.Ralfs 21); Blocks: West Branch 10 (Abby Knoop, Bailey Lukavsky 3); Durant 1 (Miranda Cox).
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