CEDAR RAPIDS — There were no lulls. No going through the motions.
And no doubt.
Showing a collective fire and hunger that has been elusive at times this season, top-ranked Cedar Rapids Xavier needed only 65 minutes to sideline Dallas Center-Grimes, 25-20, 25-14, 25-11, in a Class 4A quarterfinal at the state volleyball tournament Monday afternoon at the Alliant Energy PowerHouse.
“It’s a mental game, not a physical game with us,” senior Eve Magill said. “We have a lot of tall girls that can hit, but we needed to work on our mental game.
“Our defense has gotten a lot better, and that makes you a lot more comfortable when you swing. That’s what wins games.”
The Saints (24-6), making their fifth consecutive trip here, advance to face No. 5 Western Dubuque (25-10) or No. 6 Sergeant Bluff-Luton (24-6) in a semifinal at 12:30 p.m. Thursday.
Western Dubuque upset the Saints in the first round last year. Sergeant Bluff-Luton is the defending champion.
Xavier attacked from all angles Monday. Elyse Winter had one of the best matches of her high school career, notching 11 kills and hitting .476. She matched Maya Karl for team kill honors.
“(Winter) was phenomenal today,” Xavier Coach Austin Filer said. “She didn’t have any serve-receive errors, and she swung well. Just phenomenal today, and she has been for the last three or four matches.”
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Winter said, “Everybody stepped up today. The passes were there, and Jazmine (Yamilkoski) got me some amazing balls to hit.”
Katy Garrison added 10 kills and Magill pounded nine without an error in 16 swings. Yamilkoski dished out 39 assists, and the Saints posted a .344 kill efficiency.
Dallas Center-Grimes (17-5) entered the match with 16 wins in its last 17 matches, but this was a mismatch from the start. The Saints methodically pulled out to a 14-8 lead. The Mustangs got within 20-18, then Winter had two kills, Magill added one and Karl tacked on another as the Saints pulled away.
Xavier jumped to a 9-2 lead in the second set and a 10-3 advantage in the third. For 65 minutes, the Saints were determined and surgical.
“We were focused on playing hard, playing defense and playing as a complete team,” Yamilkoski said. “We had a chip on our shoulder.”
“They were fired up and ready to go,” Filer said. “(The emotion) can’t be all from my side or all from theirs. We have to meet in the middle. Our goal is to rise up and do something big.”
Grace Mikota paced DCG with 10 kills.
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