Prep Volleyball

No. 1 Cedar Falls drops the opener, then roars back to the 5A state volleyball final

Alayna Yates hits .643 in win over Ankeny; Tigers face Valley for the title Friday

CEDAR RAPIDS — It hasn’t always been smooth sailing this week for the Cedar Falls Tigers, and maybe that’s for the best.

“This is unusual for us,” middle hitter Alayna Yates said. “In (the Mississippi Valley Conference), we weren’t tested that much. Now we have to battle some obstacles, and I’m really impressed with how we’ve bounced back.”

The top-ranked Tigers spotted No. 4 Ankeny the first set, then stormed back for a 21-25, 25-18, 25-16, 25-15 Class 5A semifinal triumph at the state volleyball tournament Thursday morning at the U.S. Cellular Center.

“After Tuesday (a five-set win over Waukee), we proved we could battle back after we lost a set,” Akacia Brown said. “We knew what had to be done. We had to come back with more energy.”

The 2017 champion and the runner-up last year, Cedar Falls (43-1) will face No. 3 West Des Moines Valley for the 5A championship at 10 a.m. Friday. Valley (42-4) swept No. 7 Pleasant Valley in its semifinal Thursday.

Cedar Falls — 40-0 against Iowa competition this season, including 36 sweeps — defeated Valley in the Ankeny Centennial tournament Aug. 31, 25-18, 25-23.

The turning point of this one came early in Game 2, down a set and trailing 6-2, the Tigers embarked on a run, took the lead for good at 9-8, and hoarded the momentum for the rest of the match.

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A recruit of Mississippi State University, Brown recorded 23 kills. Yates added 18 kills, didn’t commit an attack error in 28 swings and posted a kill efficiency of .643. Jada Golden-Smith collected 10 kills and Emerson Green posted 48 assists.

“Our passing defense was a lot better today (than Tuesday),” Yates said. “Some of our back-row players are young, and I think they were a little shell-shocked in Round 1. They took care of business today.”

McKenna Scheib led Ankeny (37-6) with eight kills.

Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

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