Sometimes, a team just captures your heart.
“I’m sorry, it chokes me up when I talk about this group,” Cascade High School volleyball coach Mary Frake said. “It’s the kind of group you just love to coach.
“The seniors have jelled really well. There hasn’t been a lot of drama.”
Oh, and the Cougars are winning, too.
A three-set home triumph over North Cedar on Tuesday enabled the Cougars (17-5 overall, 4-1 division) to claim a share of the River Valley Conference North Division title. If they defeat winless Northeast on Thursday at Goose Lake, they’ll be outright champions.
The Cougars entered Tuesday’s match in a first-place tie with North Cedar (17-12, 3-2). The first set turned out to be the crucial one; Cascade won that one 28-26, then finished off the sweep with 25-20 and 25-19 verdicts.
Abby Welter led the Cougars with 13 kills. Molly McElmeel and Ally Hoffman added 10 apiece, and setter Jess Hoffman collected 39 assists and 20 digs.
Frake used eight players Tuesday, including six seniors.
“The majority of them have played three years of varsity,” Frake said. “They have that team camaraderie. They’re great leaders.”
Jess Hoffman is averaging 7.8 assists per set and has collected more than 1,000 assists in her career.
She’s a senior, as are top hitters Welter (3.11 kills per set) and McElmeel (2.38).
The program has grown steadily behind that nucleus; they were 16-19 as sophomores, 19-15 as juniors.
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“The girls have been consistently getting better,” Frake said. “It’s really allowed them to believe in themselves.”
Three different players from West Liberty lead the area in three different statistical categories.
Senior setter Morgan Peterson is tops (and third in the state) in assists per game, at 9.95.
Her top two targets are sophomore Macy Daufeldt and junior Martha Pace. Daufeldt, a Drake University commit, leads the area in kills per set at 4.85 — the 10th-best rate in the state — and Pace is the area leader in kill efficiency at .483. She ranks fourth statewide in that category.
The Comets (16-2) are ranked No. 3 in Class 3A, and are tied for the lead in the RVC South Division.
The pairings are coming
The Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union will release postseason pairings sometime next week.
Regionals open Oct. 22 in classes 1A and 2A, Oct. 23 in 3A, 4A and 5A. Regional finals are Nov. 4-5, with the state tournament Nov. 12-15 at the U.S. Cellular Center.
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