It’s unspoken, Amy Norton said, but it’s there.
The last this. The last that. And now, for an 11-senior crew that has given Cedar Rapids Jefferson volleyball success that it hasn’t experienced for two decades, the last postseason.
“They don’t talk about it much,” said Norton, co-head volleyball coach of the Class 5A fourth-ranked J-Hawks (35-6). “But I can tell when they’re thinking about it. They get kind of quiet, kind of sad. I don’t even want to think about our postseason banquet.”
Jefferson begins its quest for a second consecutive state-tournament berth Tuesday, when it hosts Cedar Rapids Prairie (18-20) in a 5A regional semifinal. First serve is 7 p.m.
Somewhat shockingly, it’s the first meeting of the season for the J-Hawks and the Hawks.
“That’s kind of interesting. We haven’t seen hardly anybody from the other (division of the Mississippi Valley Conference),” Norton said. “But we do know they have two really good outside hitters in Rachael Kilpatrick and Kylee Oldenburger. As a team, they’re a little up and down, but they’re very capable of putting some good volleyball together.”
Jefferson is the champion of the MVC Valley Division, runner-up of the MVC tournament. Norton has said the J-Hawks are better suited for one-match nights rather that long Saturday tournament grinds, and that’s what they’ll be seeing from here on out.
In other 5A matches involving ranked area teams, No. 5 Linn-Mar (29-9) hosts Davenport Central (7-11) and No. 13 Iowa City High (23-12) entertains Muscatine (11-20).
City High has won 16 of its last 21 matches after a slow start.
In 4A, Marion Coach Roxanne Paulsen is hopeful that a rugged regular-season schedule has the Indians (19-19) steeled for a regional run. Sixteen of Marion’s 19 losses have come against ranked competition.
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“It has been good for us,” Paulsen said. “We have four hitters back, but we came out with a sophomore libero and a freshman setter. Now, we’re starting to get our legs under us.”
The Indians swept DeWitt Central in Round 1, and travel to No. 13 Iowa City Liberty (19-14) in a regional semifinal.
“They’re not a bunch of ninth- and 10th-graders any more,” Paulsen said of the Lightning.
No. 2 Cedar Rapids Xavier (25-8) headlines the list of area 4A hopefuls; the Saints host Washington (11-18). No. 5 Independence (32-6) hosts Grinnell (15-19), and No. 8 West Delaware (31-10) welcomes Charles City (14-27) to Manchester.
There’s a top-10 regional-semifinal matchup in 3A — No. 8 West Liberty (26-10) is at No. 4 Davenport Assumption (29-5). Also, No. 2 Tipton (35-3) hosts Williamsburg (19-17), No. 5 Center Point-Urbana (28-12) hosts Union Community (28-14) and No. 9 Mount Vernon (25-15) is at Solon (22-17).
Tuesday's Class 5A regional semifinals
(All matches 7 p.m.)
Des Moines East (8-20) at West Des Moines Valley (38-3)
Cedar Rapids Kennedy (15-19) at Johnston (16-16)
Davenport Central (7-11) at Linn-Mar (29-9)
Bettendorf (15-17) at Pleasant Valley (25-7)
Cedar Rapids Prairie (18-20) at Cedar Rapids Jefferson (35-6)
Muscatine (11-20) at Iowa City High (23-12)
Tuesday's Class 4A regional semifinals
(All matches 7 p.m.)
Webster City (18-17) at Waverly-Shell Rock (39-8)
Charles City (14-27) at West Delaware (31-10)
Grinnell (15-19) at Independence (32-6)
Marion (19-19) at Iowa City Liberty (19-14)
Western Dubuque (16-17) at Dubuque Wahlert (21-12)
North Scott (22-11) at Clinton (26-10)
Carlisle (16-16) at Pella (29-6)
Oskaloosa (12-18) at Clear Creek Amana (25-14)
Washington (11-18) at Cedar Rapids Xavier (25-8)
Fairfield (30-5) at Fort Madison (20-11)
Tuesday's Class 3A regional semifinals
(All matches 7 p.m.)
Union Community (28-14) at Center Point-Urbana (28-12)
Clarion CGD (25-8) at Iowa Falls-Alden (28-6)
Mount Vernon (25-15) at Solon (22-17)
North Polk (23-17) vs. Des Moines Christian (24-7), at Nevada
Williamsburg (19-17) at Tipton (35-3)
Chariton (13-15) at Eddyville EBF (11-21)
West Liberty (26-10) at Davenport Assumption (29-5)
Albia (16-17) at Central Lee (23-9)
Anamosa (22-14) at Camanche (27-6)
Waukon (17-17) at New Hampton (34-5)
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