CEDAR RAPIDS — Cedar Rapids Xavier hardly could have scripted a better start to its volleyball season.
At 9-0, the second-ranked Saints are one of just four remaining unbeaten teams in Class 4A. With seven wins against ranked foes, Xavier has earned every notch on its unblemished record.
“I feel like this team has the potential to win a state championship,” Xavier senior libero Keera Ball said after the Saints swept Cedar Rapids Prairie, 25-11, 25-23, 25-16, in a Mississippi Valley Conference match Tuesday night at Prairie High School. “This team is something special.”
The Saints could elevate to No. 1 when the IGHSAU releases its rankings later this week. Such a lofty perch is nothing new to Xavier, which spent much of last season atop the rankings before placing third at the state tournament for the second year in a row.
“I think last year we were surprised by the target at us when we were No. 1,” Ball said. “This year, we have the experience more of being at that place. You have to work just as hard if you’re No. 1 or at the bottom.”
Third-year Xavier Coach Austin Filer believes this group is more assertive, more physical and less error-prone than his previous two squads. In a second game that featured 13 ties and 14 lead changes, Filer praised the composure of his team while underscoring the need for even better communication and more mental toughness.
“There were more times in the second set when we probably shouldn’t have won that set,” Filer said. “We just found a way to get the job done.”
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Xavier sophomore outside hitter Eve Magill — a 6-foot-4 Creighton commit — led the Saints with 13 kills, while 6-foot-2 sophomore Katy Garrison added nine. Senior Akeela Jefferson posted seven kills and four ace serves, and senior Emily Jasper chipped in six kills.
Prairie junior outside hitter Kylee Oldenburger led the Hawks (2-4, 1-1 MVC) with seven kills and eight digs.
Both teams are in action on Saturday. Xavier travels to Eldridge for the North Scott Invitational, while Prairie will compete in the Linn-Mar Invitational.
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