Prep Volleyball

Iowa state volleyball tournament 2020: Wednesday's scores, stats and more

5 championship matchups set after Wednesday's semifinals

(Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)
(Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

The 2020 Iowa high school state volleyball tournament continued Wednesday with all 10 semifinal matches at Alliant Energy PowerHouse in Cedar Rapids.

Find all the box scores, recaps, photos and more here.

Here are Thursday's championship matchups:

Class 5A — No. 5 Iowa City Liberty (24-2) vs. No. 2 Ankeny (21-2), 10 a.m.

Class 4A — No. 1 Cedar Rapids Xavier (25-6) vs. No. 8 West Delaware (29-11), 12:30 p.m.

Class 3A — No. 1 Osage (33-2) vs. No. 3 Mount Vernon (32-6), 3 p.m.

Class 2A — No. 6 Denver (35-5) vs. No. 3 Dike-New Hartford (31-4), 5:30 p.m.

Class 1A — No. 4 Gladbrook-Reinbeck (34-2) vs. No. 14 Burlington Notre Dame (18-5), 8 p.m.

State volleyball coverage

» Brackets: Pairings and schedules for all 5 classes

» Feature: Mount Vernon’s Ryan family volleyball dynasty is about to pause, but not necessarily end

» Coronavirus: Volleyball players, and COVID-19 concerns, descend on Cedar Rapids

» Monday’s roundup: Final scores, stats and more from 5A, 4A, 3A quarterfinals

» Tuesday’s roundup: Final scores, stats and more from 3A, 2A, 1A quarterfinals

Wednesday's state volleyball scores

CLASS 5A SEMIFINALS

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No. 5 Iowa City Liberty 3, No. 1 West Des Moines Dowling 2 (25-19, 23-25, 25-15, 23-25, 15-12)

Mark down the date. Wednesday was the day.

It will be remembered as the day that Iowa City Liberty crossed the border and moved into the land of the state’s volleyball elite. And the day that Cassidy Hartman became a bona fide superstar.

A sophomore hitter, Hartman clubbed 35 kills, and fifth-ranked Liberty outlasted No. 1 West Des Moines Dowling in a Class 5A five-set state semifinal thriller.

“That girl ... she’s my best friend, and she’s an absolute beast,” Liberty’s Sam Harvey said. “Oh my gosh, I have so much emotion right now. I’m just shaking.”

Liberty (24-2) jumped to an 8-1 lead in the final set, then held on after Dowling (22-3) stormed back within one point on a pair of instances late.

It was 13-12 before Hartman closed it out with her 34th and 35th kills.

“We were able to keep them honest with our other kids,” Liberty Coach Randy Dolson said. “But when it got to the end and she got back to the front row, we were going to let her finish the match.”

As a result, Liberty advances to the 5A state final in only its fourth year of existence.

“It’s really rewarding,” said setter Haley Hested, who has been a vital cog from the start. “We’ve built this from the ground up.”

Liberty has avenged both of its regular-season losses this week. They took down West Des Moines Valley in the quarterfinals, then took care of the Maroons two days later.

— Jeff Linder

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No. 2 Ankeny 3, No. 3 Pleasant Valley 2 (25-15, 19-25, 25-22, 26-28, 15-7)

Phyona Schrader and her teammates didn’t look at all defeated.

The Ankeny senior setter said losing an epic fourth set to Pleasant Valley in Wednesday’s Class 5A semifinal, where the Hawkettes squandered two match points, made the team even more determined.

“I think it gave us fuel honestly,” she said of the loss in the 28-26 set. “We were so ready to win that fourth set, and when we didn’t, it made us even more excited to go out and play the fifth game.”

Schrader and her teammates were more than up to the challenge, jumping to a 9-2 lead, then going on to complete a five-set win over the No. 3 Spartans (21-2).

The No. 2 Hawkettes (21-2), ousted in the semifinals last year, will seek their fifth state title under Coach Dave Whims on Thursday.

“I would say working together as a team and having confidence in ourselves, knowing we could win was the difference,” said Ankeny senior Ava Reynolds of the fifth set performance. “Keeping our energy high and going at it really hard from the start was important.”

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Schrader, who will play collegiately at Notre Dame, finished with 40 assists, 12 kills and 15 digs. She was at her best in the final set, consistently finding holes in the Spartan block.

— Mike Condon

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CLASS 4A SEMIFINALS

No. 1 Cedar Rapids Xavier 3, No. 5 Western Dubuque 0 (25-22, 25-23, 25-16)

The Xavier Saints constructed a championship-caliber dogpile after a semifinal victory.

And considering the circumstances, why not?

“We’ve been looking forward to that match for a long time,” said Eve Magill, part of the Saints’ front-line wall.

Top-ranked Cedar Rapids Xavier made the key plays at key times at the end of the first two sets, and swept No. 5 Western Dubuque.

“This felt like a championship match,” Xavier’s Katy Garrison said. “I’m so excited, especially after last year.”

Ah, yes, last year. A season that ended earlier than the Saints expected, in a quarterfinal loss to Western Dubuque.

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“We’ve said all year, that match is part of our story,” Magill said. “Now, it’s all motivation.”

That “story” that Magill referred to? It has reached its final chapter.

Xavier (25-6) will play for the 4A championship at 12:30 Thursday afternoon against No. 8 West Delaware (29-11). A win would mean the first volleyball title in Xavier history and the first for a Metro program since Marion won the 3A crown in 2008.

The Saints rallied from a 21-18 deficit in the first set.

Magill, who stands 6-foot-5 and will play for Creighton University next year, put up a block to put the Saints in front, 22-21. After the Bobcats (25-11) got even at 22, Xavier’s Maya Karl swatted back-to-back kills and Yamilkoski added a block to end the set.

Western Dubuque held a 22-21 edge in the second set, then the block party reconvened. Magill and Anika Ivester teamed for one to tie the set, then Elyse Winter added another to put Xavier in front, 24-22.

Winter smashed a kill to give the Saints a two-set advantage, just like they had against the Bobcats last year.

There was no comeback this time. Instead, the Saints gradually pulled away.

— Jeff Linder

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No. 8 West Delaware 3, No. 10 Gilbert 0 (25-19, 25-13, 25-16)

West Delaware finished fourth in the East Division of the Wamac Conference this season.

Now the Hawks are one victory away from being the best Class 4A team in the state.

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Coach Brett Mather’s team came out fast, and never let up, rolling to a win over No. 10 Gilbert.

“There are a lot of great teams in our conference,” said West Delaware junior setter Carlee Smith. “A lot of those teams are also down here at the state tournament and playing against them gets us ready.”

West Delaware’s style is one not many teams are accustomed to seeing. Gilbert appeared to be a step slow the entire match, never really matching the Hawks’ quick-attack style.

“We just went out there and played our hardest,” said senior Ava Hauser, who paced the Hawks attack with 16 kills. “Yesterday in practice we just worked so hard. We were ready from the start.”

Gilbert came into Wednesday’s match on a roll, downing No. 2 Waverly-Shell Rock in the regional finals and No. 3 North Scott in Monday’s quarterfinals. It also was playing its second state match without one of its two starting setters. Senior Taylor Grinley was out due to COVID-19.

“I think our tempo and pace did get to them a little bit,” Hauser said. “Everybody knows how we play and we really never let up, no matter who we are playing against.”

Smith also kept the pressure on with her serve. She finished with three aces. When she wasn’t getting aces, her serves forced Gilbert to scramble and not get into good attacking sets. Smith also had 36 assists. Ella Koloc had 13 digs.

— Mike Condon

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CLASS 3A SEMIFINALS

No. 1 Osage 3, No. 4 Davenport Assumption 1 (23-25, 26-24, 25-23, 25-17)

After losing the last three years in the state volleyball semifinals, No. 1 Osage wasn’t about to give in.

The Green Devils fell to No. 4 Davenport Assumption in a tight first set, then faced two set points to go down 2-0.

“We’re known for fighting back,” said senior hitter Danielle Johnson. “We’ve been in a lot of matches where we have started slow and finished strong. We showed just how much push back we have as a team.”

With Johnson and fellow senior Paige Kisley leading the way, Osage came from behind to win the set and rallied again to win the third set after trailing 13-7. It controlled the fourth set and went on to a 23-25, 26-24, 25-23, 25-17 victory in a Class 3A semifinal on Wednesday at Alliant Energy PowerHouse.

Now 33-2, the Green Devils will be in search of the school’s first state volleyball title on Thursday against No. 3 Mount Vernon, which advanced with a sweep over Clarion CGD.

Assumption retires at 23-3.

“We just told the girls to play Osage-style volleyball,” said Coach Bryan Tabbert. “Our girls are very happy girls, they always have a smile on their face no matter what. They settled down a little bit, got the momentum and went from there.”

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It also helped that the Green Devils came up with a way to slow down Assumption’s Ava Schubert. The 6-foot-1 senior was a force for much of the first two sets. In the final two sets, Osage found a way to slow her down a bit.

— Mike Condon

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No. 3 Mount Vernon 3, No. 2 Clarion CGD 0 (25-16, 25-22, 25-13)

She had about 21 hours to adjust, to move her pieces around the proverbial chessboard and come up with a new rotation.

Maggie Willems didn’t do it alone.

“We were sitting at breakfast — what are we going to do to win this match? — and (assistant coach) Robin (Brand) came up with this plan,” Willems said.

It involved something that seemed drastic, the implementation of a setter who had played all of three sets all season. And it worked beautifully.

With Natalie Welch at home in quarantine, third-ranked Mount Vernon motored past No. 2 Clarion CGD.

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“Hands down, the most rewarding win of my coaching career,” said Willems, who has 283 of them in 10 seasons.

Last year’s 3A state champion, the Mustangs (32-6) are one win away from a title repeat. They’ll face No. 1 Osage (33-2) for the crown at 3 p.m. Thursday.

Welch, who does not have COVID-19, ranks third on the team in kills and near the top in leadership. Everybody else needed to step up a bit, and everybody else obliged.

“I felt super sad for Natalie. We had to play for for her,” Camryn Ellyson said. “We knew she was watching us from home, wanting us to succeed.”

Lauren Schrock paced the Mustangs with 14 kills. If you know this team, you’ve heard of her.

You may not be as familiar with Madeleine Miller.

A 5-foot-10 sophomore, Miller was moved into the setting position — and Sydney Dennis pushed to the outside as a hitter, in some rotations.

“I was excited to play. The team was here for me,” said Miller, who posted four kills and seven assists.

Dennis’ line consisted of four kills, 23 assists and 12 digs.

— Jeff Linder

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CLASS 2A SEMIFINALS

No. 6 Denver 3, No. 1 Western Christian 0 (25-22, 25-22, 25-20)

Her players may not fully understand, but Denver Coach Jamie Johnson is well-aware of what her team accomplished on Wednesday night.

The No. 6 Cyclones, making their first state volleyball tournament appearance, earned a spot in Thursday’s Class 2A state title match with a stunning win over top-ranked Western Christian.

Yes, upsets happen often in a state tournament where a team reaches the title match, but not to a Western Christian team. The Wolfpack (33-10) won’t be in a title match for the first time since 2009 when they lost in the semifinals to Sheldon. Before that, the last time Coach Tammi Veerbeek’s team wasn’t in a final was 2000 when it was ousted in the regional finals.

“Sorry, I’m a little speechless right now,” Johnson said. “I knew these girls could do this. They put together a flawless match tonight.”

Denver’s reward for its historic performance is a matchup against another perennial state power in North Iowa Cedar League rival Dike-New Hartford, which advanced with a three-game sweep over Wilton.

The Cyclones looked like the team that has been here many times before. Western Christian played a solid match, but could never put together any sustained runs.

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“To be honest, it hasn’t really set in yet,” said junior hitter Allison Bonnette, who finished with 10 kills. “I’m sure it will set in more tomorrow that we took down a really great team, but we’re a great team too.”

— Mike Condon

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No. 3 Dike-New Hartford 3, No. 2 Wilton 0 (25-17, 25-21, 25-16)

What are the odds?

One of the top volleyball players in state history, Bobbi (Becker) Petersen bore not one set of twins, but two.

The second pair has arrived in high school. Get ready for the ride.

Payton and Jadyn Petersen combined for 26 kills, and third-ranked Dike-New Hartford handled No. 2 Wilton.

“They’re great players, and awesome people on and off the court,” DNH Coach Diane Harms said. “They both can hit, they’re very good passers and defenders. They have a lot of different shots.”

And a lot of volleyball savvy. Their mother is the coach at the University of Northern Iowa. Their sisters — Baylee and Sydney — now play at Texas and UNI, respectively.

The second set is more offensively geared.

“Jadyn knows what I’m going to do, and I know what she does,” said Payton, whose 19 kills came against two errors, in 44 swings. “We just have a great connection.”

— Jeff Linder

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CLASS 1A SEMIFINALS

No. 4 Gladbrook-Reinbeck 3, Council Bluffs St. Albert 0 (25-20, 25-23, 25-17)

No. 4 Gladbrook-Reinbeck wasn’t fooled by the record.

The Rebels saw what Council Bluffs St. Albert did to upset top-ranked Janeville in the Class 1A state quarterfinals.

They came out focused in the first set, used a 9-0 run to rally in the second and regained control in the third to dispatch the Saintes.

Coach Paula Kelley said her team respected the Saintes, especially after watching them in the quarterfinals.

“We came early and we watched them play Janesville,” Kelley said. “We knew that they had a lot of firepower and we were ready. When you get down to the state tournament everybody is good.”

St. Albert was strong at the net against Janesville, but struggled with Gladbrook-Reinbeck’s crew up front, led by Saari Kuehl. The 6-foot-0 senior finished with 16 kills and 21 digs.

“Yes, we were good up front, but it all starts with passing,” Kelley said. “Once we get our passing going, our hitting really comes through. We had them out of system a lot, so they didn’t get as many attacks.”

— Mike Condon

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No. 14 Burlington Notre Dame 3, No. 3 Le Mars Gehlen 0 (25-19, 25-18, 25-20)

Katy Stephens said she had “no idea what to expect” this volleyball season.

Surely, she didn’t expect this.

Burlington Notre Dame’s unlikely run will go to the final night.

“We were nervous that we weren’t even going be able to play this season,” Stephens said. “The lineup has changed so much.”

Wednesday was Notre Dame’s state-tournament debut. The Nikes were scheduled to face No. 2 Wapsie Valley in the first round Tuesday, but Wapsie was forced to withdraw from the tournament due to COVID-19.

There was no free pass this time. The Nikes went out and earned it, leading through the majority of all three sets.

Traditionally overshadowed in southeast Iowa by Fort Madison Holy Trinity and New London, Notre Dame was bolstered midseason by the addition of the junior twins Josie and Jenna Bentz, who moved in from Illinois and were forced to play junior varsity before being ruled eligible.

Wednesday’s victory was the Nikes’ 13th in a row.

Josie Bentz led the Nikes with 15 kills, and Stephens added 13. Jenna Bentz dished out 32 assists.

— Jeff Linder

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