VAN HORNE — It didn’t qualify as a rant.
Just a message.
As a third set loomed against Marion in the match of the day at the Benton Community Invitational volleyball tournament, Cedar Rapids Xavier Coach Austin Filer mentioned something about his team “going through the motions,” and something about “(Marion is) too good.”
It was easy to connect the dots and come to a conclusion:
The Saints needed a spark.
Maya Karl and Anika Ivester gave them two.
Karl thwarted a Marion rally with three kills, then Ivester contributed a pair of late blocks as Class 4A second-rated Xavier edged the No. 7 Indians, 21-18, 15-21, 15-10, in the morning pool finale.
“I just knew I had to put forth my best effort,” said Karl, a junior. “As soon as the third set started, we had a lot more energy. We were talking a lot more.
“And once we start talking, everything starts going our way.”
That sounds simple enough, but the Saints (12-1) are prone to quiet stretches in which, as Filer said, they go through the motions.
“We’re working through some things,” he said. “Some of it probably has to do with my coaching style, and some of it’s the kids. But I’m confident that we’re making positive steps.”
Marion (9-5) dominated the second set, then rallied from a 6-1 deficit in the third to climb within 7-5.
Then Karl went to work, scoring the next three points to keep the Saints in front.
A junior, Karl is third on the team in kills, and tops among hitters in kill efficiency at .455.
A pair of kills by Katy Garrison staked Xavier to a 12-10 advantage, then Ivester notched back-to-back blocks to open some breathing room.
Xavier and Marion both breezed through their first two matches.
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“Marion’s a good team, a team that is going to make a deep run (in the postseason),” Filer said.
In an effort to socially distance, Benton officials formatted the tournament so that one pool played in the morning, then the gymnasium was sanitized, then a second pool was contested in the afternoon.
There was no bracket finish.
Class 3A No. 5 Union Community earned top honors in the afternoon pool, winning its three matches to improve to 12-2.
The Knights’ key match was their second contest, rallying past Grundy Center, 17-21, 21-10, 15-5.
BENTON COMMUNITY INVITATIONAL
At Van Horne
1. C.R. Xavier 3-0, 2. Marion 2-1, 3. Iowa City Regina, 4. Maquoketa 0-3.
C.R. Xavier def. Maquoketa, 21-14, 21-6
C.R. Xavier def. Iowa City Regina, 21-8, 21-9
C.R. Xavier def. Marion, 21-18, 15-21, 15-10
Iowa City Regina def. Maquoketa, 22-20, 11-21, 15-6
Marion def. Iowa City Regina, 21-12, 21-18
Marion def. Maquoketa, 21-5, 21-12
1. Union Community 3-0, 2. Grundy Center 2-1, 3. Benton Community 1-2, 4. Durant 0-3.
Benton Community def. Durant, 21-11, 21-16
Grundy Center def. Benton Community, 21-17, 21-12
Grundy Center def. Durant, 21-6, 21-10
Union Community def. Durant, 21-6, 21-6
Union Community def. Grundy Center, 17-21, 21-10, 15-5
Union Community def. Benton Community, 21-8, 21-12
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