Prep Volleyball

Late-set magic sends Burlington Notre Dame to 1A state volleyball championship

Nikes push past Gladbrook-Reinbeck for 14th straight win

CEDAR RAPIDS — Burlington Notre Dame was a state-tournament newcomer.

The Nikes closed like old veterans.

No. 14 Notre Dame came from behind to win the first set and the last set, and earned the Class 1A state volleyball championship over No. 4 Gladbrook-Reinbeck, 25-20, 21-25, 25-18, 26-24, Thursday night at the Alliant Energy PowerHouse.

“That last timeout, our coach (Mike Davis) looked at us and said, ‘I know you’ve got it in you,’” Notre Dame’s Josie Bentz said. “And we did.”

The Nikes (19-5) finished the season with a 14-match winning streak. And they closed like champions Thursday.

Down 20-18 in the opener, they scored the final seven points, including three kills by all-tournament captain Katy Stephens.

In the third set, they emerged from a 16-16 tie by scoring nine of the last 11 points.

And in the finale, they erased deficits of 21-16 and 23-20. Again, it was Stephens with the key plays at the very end, before Gladbrook-Reinbeck’s final attack sailed long.

Stephens finished with 22 kills and was joined by Bentz on the all-tournament team, along with Gladbrook-Reinbeck’s Saari Kuehl and Ava Wyatt, plus Cadence Goebel of Le Mars Gehlen, Allie Petry of Council Bluffs St. Albert and Gabby Gergen of Janesville.

Rebels Coach Paula Kelley said her team “lost aggressiveness” late in sets.

“We started playing tentative, and that’s something we don’t normally do,” Kelley said. “It just comes down to executing.”

Kuehl matched Stephens with 22 kills.

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

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