CEDAR RAPIDS — Jazmine Yamilkoski spent the second half of last season as Cedar Rapids Xavier’s libero.
It wasn’t a tactical move.
“I couldn’t jump,” she said. “But I wanted to be on the court.”
Turned out, Yamilkoski had a torn labrum in her left hip, diagnosed shortly after Xavier’s postseason exit (in the Class 4A state quarterfinals). She had surgery in January, was on crutches for seven weeks and couldn’t run until April.
She was back Tuesday though for the Saints’ opener, and back to her old role at setter.
“Great to have her back,” Coach Austin Filer said.
Yamilkoski distributed 37 assists to pilot a balanced attack, leading Class 4A second-ranked Xavier to an MVC Valley Division sweep of Iowa City West, 25-21, 25-19, 25-14, at Ron Thillen Gymnasium.
“It’s really nice having her back,” Katy Garrison said. “She’s a great leader, a great person and — of course — a great setter.”
Filer wasn’t enthralled with his team’s back-row play: “Our hitting and blocking was fine. We’ll always look fine at the net, but we don’t understand how amazing we can be. We’ve just got to find that.” But when the ball got to Yamilkoski, good things happened.
The Saints (1-0, 1-0 MVC) collected 46 kills, compared to 24 for West (1-4, 0-2). Elyse Winter led the winners with 11 kills — all in the last two sets. Eve Magill added nine, Garrison and Maya Karl eight apice.
West was competitive throughout most of the first two sets. The Women of Troy were tied in the opener, 16-16, and led Game 2, 17-16.
But Winter sparked Xavier down the stretch of the middle set with four kills and an ace as the Saints pulled away.
Xavier led the finale throughout, scoring the first three points and building a quick 11-4 advantage.
Yamilkoski, Garrison and Magill have been the cornerstones for the program through the past four years, the first three of which ended at the U.S. Cellular Center, highlighted by a runner-up finish in 2018. A championship has eluded them so far, but it’s a good bet the Saints will be ranked No. 1 when the next ratings come out.
“We have the potential to be so much greater,” Garrison said. “We need more confidence in ourselves. We need to have more aggressiveness and put 100-percent effort into everything we can. Tonight wasn’t our best.”
West has a supremely promising freshman in Melae Lacy, who converted a team-high nine kills. Emma Dunlap collected 18 assists.
CEDAR RAPIDS XAVIER 3, IOWA CITY WEST 0 (25-21, 25-19, 25-14)
At C.R. Xavier
Serving: West 49-55 (.891), Xavier 68-74 (.919)
Aces: West 6 (Carmen Crabtree 3), Xavier 7 (Elyse Winter 4).
Kills: West 24 (Melae Lacy 9), Xavier 46 (Winter 11).
Assists: West 22 (Emma Dunlap 18), Xavier 42 (Jazmine Yamilkoski 37)
Blocks: West 3 (Mayowa Dokun 2), Xavier 8 (Anika Ivester 4).
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