MARION — They were in serious danger of falling short of the championship match.
But once the Linn-Mar Lions got there, they were a completely different team.
A much better team.
Class 5A fifth-ranked Linn-Mar handled 3A No. 4 Davenport Assumption, 21-14, 21-8, to capture the Linn-Mar Invitational volleyball tournament for the second straight year.
“We got our passes up a lot more, and our communication was a lot better,” senior Anna Gorsich said. “We got our middles involved, and that was big.”
Linn-Mar (15-5) swept through pool play and handled Marion in the quarterfinals. Semifinal foe Solon was a different beast.
The 3A ninth-rated Spartans won the first set and held a 13-12 advantage in the third before Linn-Mar scored the final three points.
Tori Niemeyer’s kill got the Lions even, then Gorsich posted back-to-back kills to allow the hostesses to survive and advance.
“We were coming off a long layoff, it was the middle of the day, and we didn’t have a lot of energy,” Gorsich said. “Once we got through the first set, our energy level increased.”
Solon (12-5) is coming off a 15-21 season last year, with mostly the same players.
“We’ve really focused on our culture,” Spartans Coach Sarah Ferin said. “Last year, the girls were a little bitey. If the other team made a run, that was it. Now, we’re more even-keeled and able to stay in games.”
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“(Solon) is a good team,” Linn-Mar Coach Teresa Bair said. “They got a lot better today from the first time we played them to the second.”
The Lions, meanwhile, saved their best for last, against Assumption (12-1). They rallied from an early 7-3 deficit in Game 1, scoring three straight points to snap a 12-all tie. Then, leading 16-14, they closed out the first set with two kills from Ellie Von Lehmden and two kills and a block from sophomore Allison Feigenbaum.
“They were kind of struggling with our quick sets to our middles,” Feigenbaum said. “And our seniors, they’ve been great helping me along.”
Linn-Mar closed out the match easily, scoring the first five points in the second set, then increasing the lead to 12-3.
The Lions have a big MVC Valley Division test Tuesday at home against 5A No. 3 Cedar Rapids Jefferson.
“It’s going to be a very, very good match,” Gorsich said. “If we play like we did at the end of the day today, we’ll have a good chance.”
Teams — 1. Center Point-Urbana 3-0, 2. Pleasant Valley 2-1, 3. Dubuque Hempstead 1-2, 4. C.R. Prairie 0-3.
Center Point-Urbana def. Pleasant Valley, 21-17, 20-22, 15-12
Dubuque Hempstead def. C.R. Prairie, 21-12, 21-18
Pleasant Valley def. Dubuque Hempstead, 21-15, 21-16
Center Point-Urbana def. C.R. Prairie, 21-9, 21-13
Pleasant Valley def. C.R. Prairie, 20-22, 21-10, 15-9
Center Point-Urbana def. Dubuque Hempstead, 19-21, 21-17, 15-7
Teams — 1. Linn-Mar 3-0, 2. Solon 2-1, 3. Fairfield 1-2, 4. Waterloo East 0-3.
Solon def. Waterloo East, 21-8, 21-11
Linn-Mar def. Fairfield, 21-7, 21-17
Linn-Mar def. Solon, 21-18, 21-17
Fairfield def. Waterloo East, 21-12, 15-21, 15-13
Solon def. Fairfield, 21-18, 21-18
Linn-Mar def. Waterloo East, 21-8, 21-14
Teams — 1. Davenport Assumption 3-0, 2. C.R. Kennedy 2-1, 3. Marion 1-2, 4. Sumner-Fredericksburg 0-3.
Davenport Assumption def. C.R. Kennedy, 21-15, 21-17
Marion def. Sumner-Fredericksburg, 23-21, 21-15
C.R. Kennedy def. Sumner-Fredericksburg, 21-19, 22-20
Davenport Assumption def. Marion, 21-15, 21-14
C.R. Kennedy def. Marion, 21-18, 21-19
Davenport Assumption def. Sumner-Fredericksburg, 21-13, 21-17
Sumner-Fredericksburg def. Fairfield, 21-15, 22-20
C.R. Prairie def. Waterloo East, 21-11, 21-8
C.R. Prairie def. Sumner-Fredericksburg, 21-14, 21-18
Linn-Mar def. Marion, 21-13, 21-15
Solon def. C.R. Kennedy, 21-18, 21-19
Davenport Assumption def. Dubuque Hempstead, 13-21, 21-9, 15-10
Pleasant Valley def. Center Point-Urbana, 21-11, 21-13
Linn-Mar def. Solon, 11-21, 21-14, 15-13
Davenport Assumption def. Pleasant Valley, 21-19, 14-21, 15-12
Linn-Mar def. Davenport Assumption, 21-14, 21-8
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