CEDAR RAPIDS — You’d think it would be a reprieve, Aliyah Carter going to the back row.
Instead, it was a nightmare.
Carter recorded 27 kills, a good share of them coming from behind the 10-foot line, and fourth-ranked Dubuque Wahlert toppled No. 2 Cedar Rapids Xavier in four sets (25-20, 25-19, 14-25, 25-14) to capture the Class 4A state volleyball championship Friday afternoon at the U.S. Cellular Center.
“This was the most success I’ve had from the back row,” said Carter, a junior, a Kansas State University commit and the all-tournament captain. “They weren’t putting up a block early in the match, so I just kept swinging away.”
Wahlert (26-12) claimed the rubber match between these teams (Xavier won in Chicago, the Golden Eagles at the Mississippi Valley Conference tournament) and won its 20th state championship, its third in a row.
“They were really on their game today,” said Xavier’s Eve Magill. “We’ve beaten them once before this season, and that makes this really hard.”
Xavier (29-9) was making its first appearance in the finals, and was the first Metro team to get to a championship match since Marion won the 3A title in 2008.
But the Golden Eagles — and Carter, specifically — were too much.
“She’s a great player,” Xavier Coach Austin Filer said. “She had a phenomenal match. When she was in the back row, she did a really good job of staying high with her contact point.”
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Xavier’s only lead in the opener was 2-1 and it didn’t hold an advantage in Game 2 after 1-0.
The third set was a different story. Xavier hit .520, with 15 kills and two errors, and led pretty much the whole way, wrapping it up with the final five points.
“After the third set, I thought we were going to keep pushing and take it to five (sets),” Xavier’s Akeela Jefferson said.
It didn’t materialize. Wahlert broke free from a 4-4 draw with six consecutive points, and Filer burned his timeouts at 7-4 and 10-4.
The Saints got within four points on three occasions, but no closer.
Carolyn Conlon (13 kills) was Wahlert’s other all-tournament representative; Jefferson (17 kills) and Magill (12) made it for Xavier.
The rest of the team consisted of Dallas Center-Grimes’ Katelyn Knudsen, Sergeant Bluff-Luton’s Kenzie Foley and Independence’s Madison Larson.
Jazmine Yamilkoski collected 34 assists, and Keera Ball had 13 digs for the Saints.
“It was the best season I’ve been a part of,” Magill said. “I love this team. The seniors were great leaders. I’m proud of what we accomplished.”
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