Prep Volleyball

Volleyball notes: Led by No. 7 Liberty, Iowa City teams set to resume

Lightning will end a 23-day competition hiatus with a home tournament Saturday

Iowa City Liberty's Shelby Kimm (32) hits the ball over the net during last year's Class 5A regional-final volleyball vi
Iowa City Liberty’s Shelby Kimm (32) hits the ball over the net during last year’s Class 5A regional-final volleyball victory over Dubuque Hempstead. The Lightning are scheduled to return to action Saturday with a home invitational. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

Randy Dolson is ready to rejoin his team. Beyond ready.

“To be honest, I’m all Zoomed out,” he said.

One of the top volleyball teams in the area, Iowa City Liberty returns to action Saturday, ending a 23-day span without competition.

With the Iowa City Community School District’s decision to implement hybrid learning, its three high school teams — Liberty, City High and West — are eligible to resume their seasons this weekend.

Class 5A seventh-ranked Liberty (1-1) hosts a seven-team invitational Saturday, which also includes West (4-6). All teams will play four matches.

“We’re jumping right back into it,” said Dolson, the Lightning’s head coach. “What the heck? We’ll use it as a big, long practice.”

The Lightning have not practiced as a team in about three weeks, and the only communication has been through Zoom meetings.

“I think we’ll be talented enough, and the kids have been working out on their own ... they’re in shape,” Dolson said. “A few of them have been getting together on their own here and there, getting some ball handling in.”

Liberty’s pre-sabbatical matches were a win over City High on Sept. 1 and a loss at Class 5A No. 1 West Des Moines Dowling on Sept. 3.

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“We just need to play,” Dolson said. “We’ve got to get our feet under us. We’re going to be OK. We might take some lumps, but that’s no issue to me.”

Liberty opened its doors in 2017, and its volleyball team was a state qualifier last season in Year 3, compiling a 34-3 record. Five starters are back; the returning talent includes sophomore hitters Cassidy Hartman (3.14 kills per set) and Shelby Kimm (2.57), along with senior setter Haley Hested (4.85 assists per set).

The Lightning’s opponents Saturday are Solon, West, Center Point-Urbana and Clinton.

“We should win a couple,” Dolson said. “Maybe we’ll lose a couple, too. Who knows?

“I’m not sure of a certain lockdown lineup. We’ll use Saturday as a chance to redefine that.”

Despite its hiatus, Liberty should get about 18 matches in before the postseason begins. Highlights are a triangular at West Des Moines Valley (Oct. 3), and Mississippi Valley Conference matches against Cedar Falls (away, Oct. 15) and Cedar Rapids Xavier (home, Oct. 17).

Mount Vernon’s ‘classic’

It has been dubbed the Mount Vernon Fall Classic, and whatever it’s lacking in quantity, the field more than makes up for with quality.

Four elite teams — 3A top-ranked Mount Vernon (11-1), 4A No. 2 Cedar Rapids Xavier (14-1), 5A No. 3 Pleasant Valley (6-0) and 5A No. 6 West Des Moines Valley (5-3) — will assemble for a round robin Saturday that begins at 9:30 a.m.

Mount Vernon athletics director Matt Thede assembled the field about two weeks ago. Originally, it was a five-team event, but 4A No. 4 North Scott was forced out due to quarantine.

The host Mustangs, who suffered their first loss of the season Tuesday against Dyersville Beckman, face Xavier in the day’s first match.

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

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