Prep Volleyball

Big second-set spree sends Gehlen past East Mills at state volleyball

Jays earn a first-round sweep in Class 1A

CEDAR RAPIDS — LeMars Gehlen is a regular here, and Mike Meyer knows how much of a grind a deep run can be.

So the Jays’ mission Wednesday night was this — get in, get out, move on.

“We really wanted to take care of business,” he said. “We want to have enough bullets in the chamber when the time comes for the next match.”

Second-ranked Gehlen turned the match on its head with a 19-2 blitz to close out the second set, and swept No. 8 East Mills, 25-17, 25-14, 25-20, in a Class 1A state volleyball quarterfinal at the U.S. Cellular Center.

“I’m really excited,” said senior Katie Peters, whose serving run ignited the Jays’ surge. “We got the first one. We want the second one and make the third one.”

Gehlen (28-4) will meet No. 3 Fort Madison Holy Trinity (36-3)/No. 7 Montezuma (31-6) in a semifinal at 6 p.m. Thursday. The Jays are at state for the ninth time in the past 10 years, a string highlighted by runner-up finishes in 2011 and 2017.

Trailing 12-6 in the second set, the Jays got three straight aces from Aubree Nilles. They were just getting started.

After a sideout, Peters went to the service stripe and went to work. She had four aces in a 12-point run, and two more of her serves resulted in East Mills overpasses that Katelyn Langel eagerly smashed to the floor.

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“Katie was serving really well. It all started there,” Langel said. “And our blockers were getting up there, too.”

And in a flash, that 12-6 deficit was transformed into a 25-14 set triumph.

“It was hard to believe,” Meyer said. “We kept scoring and scoring and scoring.”

The Jays carried that into a the final set and a sweep.

Peters led Gehlen with 13 kills and six of the team’s 16 aces. Langel added 10 kills.

Alex Knop paced East Mills (28-6) with 10 kills.

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

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