CEDAR RAPIDS — Ankeny Centennial is a regular at the state volleyball tournament.
The Jaguars have had their fair share of success, winning three titles in five previous appearances since the school opened.
Second-ranked Centennial continued its run with another trip to the semifinals, dropping No. 7 West Des Moines Dowling, 25-10, 25-19, 23-25, 25-12, in the Class 5A quarterfinals Tuesday at the U.S. Cellular Center.
“Our goal is a state championship, but it’s one game at a time,” Senior Kenna Sauer said. “To make it to the second game ... we’re excited to get to the next round.”
Centennial dominated the opening set, building a 7-2 lead and closing with seven straight points.
Dowling was scrappy in a seesaw second set. The Jaguars closed strong again, getting kills from Devyn Robinson and Sauer to pull away with five of the final six points.
The Maroons (29-13) led for most of the third, extending the match by capitalizing on consecutive miscues for the last two points.
“We expected a battle from Dowling,” Centennial Coach Jessica Rinehart said. “They’re great. They always play hard and never give up.”
The Jaguars (39-3) remained confident and pulled away with six straight points for an 11-5 lead in the fourth. Centennial thrived with momentum on their side.
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“We feed off each other’s energy,” Robinson said. “We have to keep each other up and motivated, so we can do what we need to do.”
In the final set, Robinson and Sauer each had four kills. Sauer added two aces. Sauer finished with a game-high 24 kills and Robinson added 14 and three solo blocks. Riley Morgan had 43 assists.
Sauer and Robinson were dominant during stretches.
“They are both go-to players,” Rinehart said of Sauer and Robinson. “They are both physical studs. We do want to get them the ball. They do have that competitive mentality when the game is on the line they want it in their hands. It says a lot about their physical ability but more about their mental ability to take over a match.”
Dowling was led by Jacey Koethe’s 15 kills. Anna Godfredsen added 10, while Allena Shimon had 28 assists.
Centennial advanced to Thursday’s semifinal against third-ranked West Des Moines Valley.
“It’s surreal,” Robinson said. “Getting out there, every time we play on the court is a big opportunity to go out and show our stuff.”
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