CEDAR RAPIDS — Say hello and become acquainted to the Denver Cyclones. Just another North Iowa Cedar League volleyball team.
Just another great NICL volleyball team, to be more specific.
The sixth-ranked Cyclones made a splash in their state-tournament debut, making all the right moves at the end of the three close sets and toppling No. 4 Boyden-Hull in a Class 2A quarterfinal, 25-22, 11-25, 25-22, 26-24, Tuesday afternoon at the Alliant Energy PowerHouse.
“We’re the first team in school history to get here, and we just said, ‘Let’s go out and give our all,’” Kayla Knowles said. “The best thing that come out of it is a state championship.”
The Cyclones (34-5) hail from the NICL East Division. There are nine teams in that division, and all of them were ranked in the final IGHSAU rankings.
“It’s one of the toughest conferences in Iowa,” Knowles said, accurately. “It’s competition, competition, competition. You can’t sleep on anybody.”
“We get pushed, every single set of every single match,” added setter Reese Johnson, who posted 30 assists and 18 digs. “And that really helps when you get in a pressure match like this one.”
Alas, the Cyclones resembled state-tournament veterans, even if they were mere rookies.
Down 20-18 in the first set, they closed with a 7-2 run, capped by an ace by Allison Bonnette.
Boyden-Hull (24-8) seemed to be taking control after a rout in Game 2, but the Cyclones dug in again, scoring the final five points in the third set after trailing 22-20. Jessica Gergen’s block closed it out.
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Then, in the finale, the Cyclones faced a 24-23 deficit, but strung together the final three points on another key Gergen block, another big Bonnette ace and a Boyden-Hull attack error.
Denver takes on mighty Western Christian (33-9) in a semifinal at 5:30 Wednesday afternoon. The Wolfpack are ranked No. 1 and are making their 20th straight trip to the semifinals.
The Cyclones aren’t scared.
“If we play well, we can beat them,” Johnson said. “They’re like everybody else; they have their flaws. So do we. If we play our game, we can some out on top.”
Bonnett counted 14 kills and three aces for the winners. Ellie Woelber and Leah Rozeboom registered 14 kills apiece for Boyden-Hull.
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