CEDAR RAPIDS — There’s rebuilding. There’s reloading.
Then there’s this.
If you thought Cedar Falls was going to take a hit this season after losing four players to Division-I programs, think again. The Class 5A top-ranked Tigers swept 4A No. 2 Cedar Rapids Xavier, 25-18, 25-19, 25-16, in an MVC Mississippi Division volleyball match Tuesday night at Ron Thillen Gymnasium.
“We had so much talent last year that didn’t even get to play,” said Akacia Brown, who collected a match-high 18 kills. “These girls played those girls at practice, so they know what to do.”
The defending 5A state champion, Cedar Falls (29-0 overall, 5-0 division) extended its winning streak to 58 matches dating back to Sept. 16, 2017.
Rebuilding? Reloading? Nope. Still stacked. The Tigers are 64-0 in sets this season.
“They’re really, really good,” Xavier libero Keera Ball said. “They’re probably the best team (in Iowa) we’ll play all year.”
Playing in front of a large, spirited home crowd, the Saints (19-3, 4-1) were dead-even with the Tigers through the first half of the first set, a 12-12 deadlock. But the Tigers scored the next four points, and were off to the races.
Many of the Tigers’ strengths, Xavier Coach Austin Filer said, are intangible.
“I think they want to win more than anybody else,” Filer said. “Their intensity, their body language ... every kid on their team is engaged at all times.
“I thought they would be a top-three team in 5A. I didn’t think they’d be destroying everybody like this.”
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Cedar Falls led the second set from wire to wire, then broke away from an 8-8 draw in the third with a 9-2 surge.
Alayna Yates added nine kills and four blocks for the victors. Emerson Green dished out 36 assists.
For the Saints, it was a lesson.
“We’ve got to learn from our losses,” Ball said. “There’s still more to do.”
Filer said, “Right now, we don’t play defense well enough. We aren’t mentally tough enough.”
What’s the remedy?
“I don’t know,” he said. “That’s the magic of coaching, I guess.”
Eve Magill posted 12 kills for the Saints. Jaz Yamilkoski had 24 assists.
CEDAR FALLS 3, CEDAR RAPIDS XAVIER 0 (25-18, 25-19, 25-16)
At C.R. Xavie
Serving — Cedar Falls 69-74 (.932), Xavier 47-55 (.855).
Aces — Cedar Falls 4 (Emily Clapp, Emma Wedgbury 2), Xavier 3 (three with 1).
Kills — Cedar Falls 42 (Akacia Brown 18), Xavier 30 (Eve Magill 12).
Assists — Cedar Falls 39 (Emerson Green 36), Xavier 26 (Jaz Yamilkoski 24).
Blocks — Cedar Falls 10 (Alayna Yates 4), Xavier 3 (three with 1).
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