116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS - All of a sudden, Nevada is a hotbed for high school girls' athletics in Iowa.
The third-ranked Cubs dominated most of the match, then held off No. 1 West Liberty at the very end to complete a sweep (25-21, 25-14, 30-28) for the Class 3A championship at the state volleyball tournament Friday afternoon at the U.S. Cellular Center.
A school without a girls' state championship as recently as last winter, Nevada captured a girls' basketball crown in March, was a runner-up in soccer in June, then added the volleyball crown Friday.
'We just have a lot of athletes that play together in a lot of sports,” said senior Kati Cassabaum, a part of deep runs in all three sports. 'We have a good connection together, and we're super competitive.”
And super successful.
Nevada (33-9) utilized its decisive size advantage throughout the match. The Cubs never trailed by more than one point.
'We weren't used to that big of a block,” said West Liberty setter Cassedi Simon, the all-tournament captain. 'The first two matches here, we didn't face that big of a block. They kind of shut us down.”
Playing in their first state final in any sport, the Comets (37-5) came to life at the end of the third set.
Down 18-10, West Liberty started to chip away. At 23-18, the Nevada students chanted, prematurely, 'I believe that we just won.”
The Comets pressed on, got even at 24-all, then had set point at 27-26.
Cassabaum notched a kill and a block to put the Cubs back ahead, then her kill ended the match.
Will Baumann became the third coach to win state championships at two different schools; he won five at Tripoli.
'I knew we had a size advantage, but your game plan only is as good as your execution,” Baumann said. 'And we executed great.”
Simon was joined on the all-tournament team by teammate and twin Maddie Simon, Nevada's Cassabaum, Abby Stephenson and Erin Francis, Libby Ryan of Mount Vernon and Paige Overmohle of Carroll Kuemper.
Cassabaum led all attackers with 12 kills. Gillian Tupper collected 36 assists for the Cubs, and Stephenson had 22 digs.
Audra Bridenstine and Haddie Anderson paced the Comets with eight kills apiece. Simon posted 27 assists.
The Comets were disappointed in the media room afterward, but anything but devastated. Hailey Daufeldt didn't let go of the runner-up trophy during interviews.
'The way we finished makes it hurt a little less,” she said. 'We pushed them at the end.”
Comets Coach Ruben Galvan said, 'We made history this week. I couldn't be more proud of these kids.”
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