CEDAR RAPIDS — It goes against Emily Strauss’ nature to demand the ball.
“It’s definitely a big challenge,” the Linn-Mar senior said. “My freshman year, I don’t think I said a word.”
But now, with a virtually new crew, assertion is a necessity.
“She needs that show-me-the-ball attitude,” Linn-Mar Coach Teresa Bair said. “We’re starting to see the things she can do. And tonight will help.”
Strauss banged out 23 kills, and Linn-Mar swept Cedar Rapids Jefferson, 25-21, 25-20, 25-20, in a Mississippi Valley Conference Valley Division volleyball match Tuesday night at Jefferson High School.
It was a confrontation of the Metro’s two best big-school programs the past two years. Both are trying to get some new faces to blend after suffering massive graduation losses.
“We’ve got to figure out our identity,” Jefferson Coach Amy Norton said. “We’re still working on that.”
So is Linn-Mar (9-9 overall, 1-2 MVC Valley). Strauss and Allison Feigenbaum are the only two returning starters from last year’s Class 5A state-semifinal squad.
“Before tonight, we didn’t have that confidence,” Strauss said. “Tonight, we showed that we can win against these good teams.
“We knew at some point, it would flip. We just didn’t know when.”
The key moment came late in the second set. Down 19-17, the Lions closed the set with an 8-1 run that featured three kills by Strauss.
Linn-Mar pulled away at the end of the finale, too, closing with five of the final six points — four on errors by the J-Hawks (6-6, 2-1).
Feigenbaum and Lauren Gorsich added six kills apiece for Linn-Mar. Cassidy Boche paced the J-Hawks with 20 kills.
Both teams have promising young setters. Sophomore Riley Jonker posted 38 assists for the Lions; freshman Allie Barlow counted 30 for the J-Hawks.
LINN-MAR 3, CEDAR RAPIDS JEFFERSON 0 (25-21, 25-20, 25-20)
At C.R. Jefferson
Serving — Linn-Mar 71-74 (.959), Jefferson 58-62 (.935).
Aces — Linn-Mar 6 (Anna Christenson, Emma Casebolt 2), Jefferson 5 (Allie Barlow, Rhiana Briney 2).
Kills — Linn-Mar 46 (Emily Strauss 23), Jefferson 35 (Cassidy Boche 20).
Assists — Linn-Mar 44 (Riley Jonker 38), Jefferson 34 (Barlow 30).
Blocks — Linn-Mar 4 (Lauren Gorsich 2), Jefferson 2 (Briney, Grace Jellison).
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