CEDAR RAPIDS — Getting to the state volleyball tournament has become an expectation for Cedar Rapids Xavier.
With tall, powerful hitters like this, it is easy to see why the Saints will be one of the favorites to win the thing.
“I think we are ready,” Xavier Coach Austin Filer said after the second-ranked Saints swept No. 11 Gilbert, 25-12, 25-14, 25-18, in a Class 4A regional final Monday night at Ron Thillen Gymnasium. “I am fortunate that we have gotten us to a spot where that is just the expectation. We don’t have kids anymore that know anything other than ending their season at the (U.S. Cellular Center). It is a great feeling to be there. We have got some tremendous coaches that put a lot of work in and I think that when the time comes, they are going to be ready.”
This is the fourth state berth in a row for Xavier (28-6), all under Filer. The Saints begin the state tournament with a 4A quarterfinal match against No. 10 Western Dubuque (22-13) on Nov. 12 at 4 p.m. at the U.S. Cellular Center in downtown Cedar Rapids.
“I am really confident,” Xavier junior Elyse Winter said. “With the experience we have on this team … the energy we had tonight and the ability that we have shown ourselves that we can do this, we can put in this effort and we can win. That is going to help us carry into state play.”
After a slow start in the opening set, a kill from the 6-foot-1 Winter gave the Saints their first lead at 8-7. In the second set, Winter induced a Gilbert timeout with a kill, then won the set with another. Her 12th and final kill sent Xavier to state.
“I am proud of how I did,” said Winter, who also added two blocks and two aces. “It was definitely having my team around me. They definitely made it easy to consistently play well. Everybody did that. With everybody playing at such a high level and all with the same goal of getting to the Cell Center, it really helped to push us.”
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Xavier’s 6-foot-5 junior Eve Magill posted a game-high 16 kills, while 6-foot-1 junior Katy Garrison added six kills and three blocks.
Gilbert ends its season at 32-13.