116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Fans of Western Christian volleyball got to see both the best and the worst of their team Wednesday.
The Wolfpack came out on fire and won impressively in the first set of their Class 2A semifinal match with No. 9 Osage at the Alliant Energy PowerHouse.
The second set?
“When we are in system, we're a pretty tough team,” Wolfpack Coach Tammi Veerbeek said. “If we are scrambling, we are not very good and we all saw that out there today.”
Fortunately for Veerbeek and her team, they were able to adjust and recover to post a 25-19, 11-25, 25-22, 25-18 win over the Green Devils (29-10). The Wolfpack (40-5) will meet top-ranked Dike-New Hartford on Thursday at 4 p.m. for the state title. Dike-New Hartford advanced with a sweep of Denver.
Western Christian showed its resilient side Tuesday with its rally from down 2-0 to defeat Dyersville Beckman. The Wolfpack didn't need that type of rally against Osage, but they were able to quickly flush the rough second-set performance.
“We were hoping that we could roll them over,” senior Emma Westphal said. “Osage definitely had the fight in the second set. We had to make sure we punched back even harder in the third set.”
» Photo gallery: Western Christian vs. Osage in state volleyball tournament
The third set was a tight struggle until the Wolfpack were able to break away late to take a 2-1 lead. Veerbeek told her team after the second-set loss that winning the third would be key.
“I told the girls that Game 2 wasn't very good,” she said. “Then I told them to look up and the score was 0-0. That's the great thing about volleyball. The momentum can swing so quickly.
“We really talked about being intentional in Game 3. Game 3 is always pivotal when you are tied 1-1. I told them I wanted them to go out and play like they were down 2-0 because there was a sense of urgency there about wanting a chance to play for a state championship.”
After taking the third set, the Wolfpack were dominant in the final set.
“In the second set, we weren't playing Western Christian volleyball,” Westphal said. “We knew we needed to play together because when we do that we play our best volleyball.”
Stella Winterfield (14 kills) and Abby VerBurg (11) led the Wolfpack offense. Claudia Aschenbrenner led Osage with 17 kills.
Veerbeek and her team welcome the challenge playing Dike-New Hartford presents.
“We want a shot at them,” Veerbeek said. “We know it is a David and Goliath situation. They are a great team and we know it is going to take every bit of effort to stay with them.”