Prep Volleyball

Confident Cedar Rapids Kennedy drops Iowa City West in regional volleyball opener

Cougars advance to regional semifinal after four-set victory

CEDAR RAPIDS — The goal is to peak for the postseason.

Cedar Rapids Kennedy Coach Michelle Goodall saw glimpses of that from the Cougars in their postseason opener.

Kennedy used a balanced attack and team effort to drop Iowa City West, 25-21, 25-18, 16-25, 25-19, in a Class 5A Region 5 first-round match Wednesday at Kennedy High School.

“I think we’re really starting to put some nice things together at this point of the season,” Goodall said. “I think that’s what you work hard for all season.

“We’re playing with more confidence than we have before. I think that’s going to make the difference.”

Kennedy (15-19) surrendered the first two points of the first runs of five and four, winning five of six for a 17-12 edge. West stormed back to tie it, 19-19. The Cougars closed with six of the last eight, including two kills and an ace on set point by Sadie Powell.

The second set was controlled by the Cougars, who trailed just once at 4-3. Kennedy senior Laila Sain sparked a four-point streak and helped Kennedy finish the second set with seven of the last 10 points. Sain and Powell led the Cougars with 13 kills apiece.

“When we are able to run our middles, our defense and tempo and can set the ball to them they’re unstoppable,” Sain said. “I think that really worked for us. We had all-out effort. Nothing really hit the floor. That is huge, too.”

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The only toe-stubbing came in the third when West (13-24) blitzed Kennedy with the first five points, en route to a 10-2 lead. West’s Claire Overton had three of her 19 kills during that stretch.

The Cougars responded, taking an 11-6 lead in the final set. Sain got things started with a kill, Powell had three in a span of four points that included a Katie Jensen ace. Powell also had a team high two blocks.

“She is explosive,” Goodall said. “She is just an athlete.

“She is pretty special. She can really elevate and hit some trajectories that are hard for high school athletes to defend.”

The Cougars were without one of their top players. Middle hitter Elyse Winter was sidelined by an injury suffered last weekend and her return is questionable. Madison Lyman received the nod and filled her spot.

“We’re down our M1 right now,” Goodall said. “I think Madi did a good job stepping into that role.”

Abby Feldmann led Kennedy with two aces and had 39 of the team’s 41 assists. Goodall said Claire Fluent had some strong digs, including a kick-save with her foot that led to a point.

“Actually, I think they all played well,” Goodall said. “Collectively, they all did a great job.”

Kennedy will play in a regional semifinal at 15th-ranked Johnston next Tuesday. The Dragons defeated the Cougars earlier this season.

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“The way we played tonight I think we can go all the way,” Sain said. “I think it means a lot to move on.”

l Comments: (319) 368-8679; kj.pilcher@thegazette.com

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