116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS - The gymnasium walls provide all the motivation they need.
'Sometimes, I tell them, look at the banners,” West Liberty volleyball coach Ruben Galvan said.
Banners? Well, there are conference-championship banners. State-qualifying banners ...
'There's not the big one, though,” Galvan said. 'It's motivation to get out of the dry spell we've had for 100 years or whatever.”
The top-ranked Comets reached their first state final in any sport Thursday, sweeping No. 5 Mount Vernon, 25-22, 25-20, 25-13, in a Class 3A semifinal at the state volleyball tournament at the U.S. Cellular Center.
'I'm so excited to lead this team to the championship match,” said setter Cassedi Simon.
West Liberty (37-4) faces No. 3 Nevada (32-9) for the title at 2:30 p.m. Friday. A straight-set winner Thursday, Nevada ousted the Comets in the quarterfinals last year.
But if West Liberty stays at the level at which it has played so far this week, the Comets will be extremely difficult to beat.
'They played a fantastic match today,” Mount Vernon libero Libby Ryan said. 'They're really scrappy. We couldn't put the ball down against them. And their setter is fantastic.”
At 5-foot-9, Simon is as tall as any of the Comets' hitters. But despite their lack of size, they can terminate.
'We play at a good pace and get to our approach fast,” said Audra Bridenstine, who led all attackers with 10 kills. 'When I'm going fast, I feel I can jump higher.
'And our setter, she knows what to do with the ball.”
A Boise State recruit (along with her twin sister Maddie), Simon collected six kills, 31 assists and eight digs.
'I just try to find those openings,” she said. 'We try to run it quick, get their blockers off balance and mix it up.”
Kyleigh Becker added nine kills, Hailey Daufeldt eight.
Mount Vernon (27-13) didn't have many openings. West Liberty led the first set throughout, then broke open the second with a five-point run to break an 11-all tie.
Then, at 7-5 in the third set, West Liberty busted it open with eight points in a row, and it was a countdown to the championship match.
'All the credit goes to them,” Mustangs Coach Maggie Willems said. 'They played a really great match.”
Kaitlyn Volesky posted nine kills for Mount Vernon.
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