The Kennedy Cougars have become a little harder to defend, and thus, a lot harder to beat.
After starting 2-8, Cedar Rapids Kennedy has rattled off 11 wins its last 13 matches. The run featured a tournament title at Bondurant on Saturday, then a three-set sweep of Dubuque Hempstead on Tuesday.
“They weren’t ready to give up on the season,” first-year head coach Robin Fonck said. “Instead it was, ‘OK, this is it. We need to do this.’
“We knew Hempstead was going to put up a double block on Katie (Jensen), so our outsides got a lot of hits. This is probably the smartest volleyball-IQ team I’ve been around ... so it was an easy adjustment for us to make.”
Kennedy (13-10 overall, 2-2 MVC Valley Division) had been a consistent winner in the not-so-distant past, reaching the state tournament four straight years from 2008 through 2011, then again in 2015. But the program slid below .500 in 2017 and 2018, and former coach Michelle Goodall left to become an assistant for Team USA women’s Paralympic team.
Fonck had served in roles of head freshman coach, head JV coach and assistant varsity coach at Kennedy since 2010, then was elevated to head coach in May.
She inherited a veteran roster.
“(Libero) Claire Fluent has stepped up her game even more, and has become more of a verbal leader,” Fonck said. “(Setter) Abby Feldmann has become more proactive in putting the most solid offense we can become. And (Jensen) ... she’s just an unbelievably positive individual.”
Jensen leads the attack with 3.02 kills per set, with Sadie Powell, Molly Joyner and Kelsey Jaeger around the 2-kill-per-set mark.
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Three area races — the Wamac Conference West Division and both divisions of the River Valley Conference — have become quite muddled as the home stretch approaches.
• Center Point-Urbana’s five-set win over Clear Creek Amana on Tuesday created a four-team logjam in the Wamac West. CPU, CCA and Independence are 3-1 with Benton Community right behind at 2-1. CCA has the easiest remaining schedule, finishing at Williamsburg (Oct. 8) and Vinton-Shellsburg (Oct. 10). Indee and CPU both still have a match remaining with Benton.
• Cascade and North Cedar both are 3-1 in the RVC North after posting important wins Tuesday, and the winner between the Cougars and the Knights — Tuesday at Cascade — will wrap up at least a title share. Anamosa and Camanche are 3-2; Monticello is 2-2. All are still mathematically alive.
• In the RVC South, Tipton (4-1), Wilton (3-1) and West Liberty (3-1) have split in the round robin among each other and will finish in a three-team dead heat unless an upset occurs. Tipton has a tricky test yet against West Branch at home Oct. 3.
Sommer Daniel's triple-quadruple
Tipton senior Sommer Daniel posted 33 digs in the Tigers’ five-set win over Wilton on Tuesday, moving her past the 1,000-dig mark in her career.
With that, Daniel has reached quadruple-digits in career kills (1,422), assists (1,605) and digs (1,011).
She is the reigning Class 3A state player of the year and a University of Utah commit.
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