Prep Volleyball

Top-ranked Dowling earns first state volleyball victory since 2013

Maroons drop first set, then win next 3 to oust Hempstead

CEDAR RAPIDS — Getting here, that’s been the easy part for the Dowling Maroons.

Winning here ... that’s another matter.

“It’s been a while,” senior hitter Olivia Nahas said. “It’s good to move on to the second round.”

Top-ranked West Des Moines Dowling spotted No. 8 Dubuque Hempstead the first set, then rolled through the next three to advance from Monday’s Class 5A state volleyball quarterfinal, 23-25, 25-15, 25-17, 25-17, at Alliant Energy PowerHouse.

Dowling (22-2) is making its ninth consecutive appearance. After a runner-up finish in 2013, the Maroons dropped their next six first-round matches.

But not this one.

Nahas recorded 17 kills, Emerson Thelen added 14, and the Maroons (22-2) march on to face No. 5 Iowa City Liberty (23-2) in a semifinal match at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

It was a little dicey for a while.

Hempstead (20-6) rallied from a 7-0 deficit to win the opener. Still down 23-19, the Mustangs scored the last six points, wrapping it up with successive kills by Corinne Meier, Becca Breitbach and Leah Moeller.

Dowling trailed 10-7 in Game 2 when Coach Mary Beth Wiskus called timeout.

“I’m not a yeller,” she said. “But I just started yelling. We weren’t playing to our personality. We weren’t us.”

The Maroons scored nine of the next 10 points after the timeout, and were the better team the rest of the way. One primary reason was improved passing.

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“We were able to get the nerves out,” back-row player Emma Scheck said. “We came together, took a deep breath and were able to pick it up.”

Hempstead’s only multi-point lead after that was 4-1 in Game 4, but the Maroons erased that quickly.

“They made a lot of errors early, but really cleaned it up after that,” Hempstead Coach Jacque Arensdorf said.

Sophia Painovich collected 36 assists for the Maroons.

Meier paced Hempstead with 19 kills.

Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

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