One upset down, one to go.
One to go to state.
“We’re kind of an underdog with our record, but not with our talent,” Linn-Mar volleyball coach Morgan Mammosser said. “We’re playing with everything we have right now.”
Fresh off a four-set upset win over 11th-ranked Dubuque Senior, the Lions (13-14) go after even bigger game Tuesday. They’ll face No. 8 Dubuque Hempstead (19-5) in a Class 5A regional final at 7 p.m.
It’s one of nine matches involving area teams Tuesday. Winners advance to the state tournament next week at the Alliant Energy PowerHouse.
Also in 5A, No. 5 Iowa City Liberty (21-2) hosts No. 14 Bettendorf (12-6).
The top-ranked team in 4A, Cedar Rapids Xavier (22-6) hosts No. 15 Oskaloosa (21-7), No. 5 Western Dubuque (23-10) welcomes Dubuque Wahlert (7-17), No. 7 Marion (21-11) faces Dallas Center-Grimes (16-4) at Linn-Mar and No. 8 West Delaware (27-11) entertains Newton (13-17).
Defending 3A champion Mount Vernon (29-6), ranked third, meets Davis County (18-15) at Montezuma, No. 7 Union Community (30-9) tangles with No. 13 Independence (25-7) at Center Point, and No. 8 West Liberty (26-6) tackles No. 4 Davenport Assumption (21-2) at Tipton.
Linn-Mar will take its second busride to Dubuque in six days, and the Lions firmly believe they can come home with a similar result.
“I believe with my whole heart that we can win,” Mammosser said. “Hempstead is a great team, but so are we. I think we can do anything we put our mind to.”
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The Lions are traveling, but their gym will be inhabited by the Marion-DCG 4A match, due to the Indians’ post-derecho gym renovation. Marion won at Linn-Mar in the regional semifinals, rallying from a two-set deficit to get past North Polk.
“A little stress? That was a lot of stress,” Marion Coach Roxanne Paulsen said. “We weren’t playing our best, but we were strong enough to weather the storm.”
Next up is a strong outside hitter in DCG’s Grace Mikota, who averages 4.76 kills per set.
“She’s really solid,” Paulsen said. “We have to defend her and match kills with her when she’s in the front row.”
Tuesday's Class 5A regional volleyball finals
No. 14 Bettendorf (12-6) at No. 5 Iowa City Liberty (21-2)
Liberty carries a 13-match winning streak into this match, in which a victory would land the Lightning in the state tournament for the second straight year. The future is even brighter, considering the top five attackers consist of four sophomores and a freshman. Soph Cassidy Hartman leads the way at 4.16 kills per set and a .355 hitting efficiency. Liberty was the MVC Mississippi Division champion while Bettendorf tied for fourth in the Mississippi Athletic Conference. The Bulldogs have won six of their last seven matches.
Linn-Mar (13-14) at No. 8 Dubuque Hempstead (19-5)
Linn-Mar pulled a minor upset in the regional semifinals, taking down No. 11 Dubuque Senior in four sets. These teams played once in the regular season, with Hempstead earning a 21-19, 21-12 victory at the Westside Invitational on Oct. 10. Led by Allison Feigenbaum, the Lions are an exceptional blocking team, recording 3.09 blocks per set. Feigenbaum also averages 2.45 assists per set. Linn-Mar’s front line will have its collective radar on Hempstead’s Corinne Meier, who ranks third in 5A with 4.54 kills per set.
Other Class 5A regional finals
No. 10 Sioux City East (22-6) at No. 1 West Des Moines Dowling (20-2)
No. 12 Johnston (19-14) at No. 4 West Des Moines Valley (18-6)
No. 9 Urbandale (11-7) at No. 7 Ankeny Centennial (15-9)
Southeast Polk (5-20) at No. 2 Ankeny (18-2)
Waterloo West (10-18) at No. 6 Cedar Falls (25-5)
Muscatine (14-12) at No. 3 Pleasant Valley (19-1)
Tuesday's Class 4A regional volleyball finals
No. 15 Oskaloosa (21-7) at No. 1 Cedar Rapids Xavier (22-6)
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A heavy favorite to reach its fifth consecutive state tournament, MVC Valley Division champion Xavier has designs on much more than merely getting there. At 10.14 assists per set, Jazmine Yamilkoski is the state leader in that category in 4A. Her top three targets are 6-foot-5 Eve Magill (3.32 kills per set), Katy Garrison (2.74) and Maya Karl (2.58), whose .372 kill efficiency ranks third in 4A. Osky doesn’t have a senior on its roster and is led by junior outside hitter Faith DeRonde (4.99 kills per set, .310 kill rate).
Dubuque Wahlert (7-17) at No. 5 Western Dubuque (23-10)
You don’t see Wahlert as a significant underdog in a regional match often, but that’s the Golden Eagles’ role Tuesday. Western Dubuque upset Wahlert in a regional semifinal last year, and that helped vault the Bobcats into the state finals. Six starters are back from that club, which has won 13 of its last 16 matches, with the three losses coming against 5A top-five teams. Madison Maahs is second among 4A setters at 10.05 assists per set. Out for 12 matches early this season with an injury, Meredith Bahl has stormed back and averages 3.54 kills per set.
Dallas Center-Grimes (16-4) vs. No. 7 Marion (21-11), at Linn-Mar
Marion rallied from an 0-2 hole to get past North Polk in the regional semifinals, and its finish was convincing. The Indians won the third and fourth sets by 25-10 margins, then won Game 5, 15-5. Avery Van Hook finished with 16 kills, Elise Mehaffy 14. In addition to being the top two hitters on the team, Van Hook and Mehaffy also serve as setters in the Indians’ 6-2 scheme. Dallas Center-Grimes won the Little Hawkeye Conference title and has won 15 of its last 16 matches. Three of the Mustangs’ four losses have come to 5A teams. Grace Mikota averages 4.76 kills per set.
Newton (13-17) at No. 8 West Delaware (27-11)
West Delaware’s path to a return trip to Cedar Rapids became smoother when No. 9 Clear Creek Amana was forced to sit out of the postseason due to quarantine. That gave Newton a walkthrough to the regional final without playing a match. West Delaware, meanwhile, swept Charles City quickly behind Ava Hauser’s 13 kills. Hauser averages 3.46 kills per set, and junior Ella Koloc is one of the area’s top liberos, collecting 3.81 digs per set. Coach Brett Mather needs three more wins to reach 800 at West Delaware; he is 869-217 overall.
Other Class 4A regional finals
No. 13 Carroll (23-10) at No. 6 Sergeant Bluff-Luton (22-6)
No. 12 Lewis Central (19-6) at No. 4 Glenwood (31-2)
No. 10 Gilbert (25-9) at No. 2 Waverly-Shell Rock (38-8)
Burlington (18-7) at No. 3 North Scott (21-4)
Tuesday's Class 3A regional volleyball finals
No. 7 Union Community (30-9) vs. No. 13 Independence (25-7), at Center Point
Five starters are back from last year’s Union squad that reached the state semifinals, knocking off No. 1 Davenport Assumption along the way. Senior Belle Weber is among the top hitters in 3A, ranking third in kills per set (5.18) and fourth in kill efficiency (.427). The Knights finished third in the rugged NICL East, which had all nine teams in the final rankings. Independence is the champion of the Wamac Conference West Division with back-row player Brooke Beatty (4.48 digs per set) named the divisional player of the year.
No. 3 Mount Vernon (29-6) vs. Davis County (18-15), at Montezuma
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Reigning 3A state champion Mount Vernon is heavily favored to return to state for the 12th time in 14 years. The Mustangs carry a seven-match win streak. University of Iowa recruit Sydney Dennis, who transferred from North Cedar after last season, runs the show with a 9.34-assist average, and she has multiple weapons from which to choose, including Lauren Schrock (3.73 kills per set). Jorie Randall and Kameron Brand anchor the back row. Davis County advanced with a sweep against Eddyville EBF behind Cooper Champoux’s nine kills.
No. 8 West Liberty (26-6) vs. No. 4 Davenport Assumption (21-2), at Tipton
Simply put, the match of the night in 3A. West Liberty started the season 18-0, went through a rough patch, then recovered. The Comets knocked off Wilton to win the River Valley Conference tournament, then followed that up with a pair of regional sweeps. Macy Daufeldt (4.45 kills per set, .403 kill efficiency) and Martha Pace (3.62, .344) provide one of the best hitting duos around, and Monica Morales (4.86 digs per set) is a top-flight libero. Assumption’s only two losses came against Pleasant Valley and Wilton, and much of the Knights’ offense runs through sophomore Ava Schubert (4.40 kills per set).
Other Class 3A regional finals
Sheldon (15-13) vs. No. 5 Unity Christian (22-5), at Sioux Center
No. 10 Humboldt (32-3) vs. No. 6 MOC-Floyd Valley (24-4), at Ridge View
Des Moines Christian (24-13) vs. No. 2 Clarion CGD (26-2), at Webster City
Knoxville (27-7) vs. No. 9 Red Oak (29-4), at Creston
No. 15 Forest City (21-9) vs. No. 1 Osage (30-2), at Central Springs
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