Prep Volleyball

Marion drops 5-set regional volleyball final to Dallas Center-Grimes

Trying season ends win short of state for No. 7-ranked Indians

Marion coach Roxanne Paulsen speaks to Elise Mehaffy (15) during the Wamac volleyball tournament at Mount Vernon High Sc
Marion coach Roxanne Paulsen speaks to Elise Mehaffy (15) during the Wamac volleyball tournament at Mount Vernon High School in Mount Vernon on Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

MARION — Marion’s volleyball season came full circle Friday night.

Neither the beginning, nor the ending, was where the team had hoped.

After starting practice a week late at Linn-Mar’s gymnasium due to derecho damage, the same court saw the season come to a close in a back-and-forth contest against Dallas Center-Grimes.

The Fillies overwhelmed the seventh-ranked Indians early in the final set to claim a 3-2 (27-25, 16-25, 25-21, 18-25, 15-8) win in a Class 3A regional final Tuesday night at Linn-Mar.

“It was such a crazy season,” Marion senior libero Trinity Zika said about a fall that included the freshman and sophomore seasons interrupted by COVID-19 and head coach Roxanne Paulsen quarantined by the illness. “We started with no gym. We started here.

“We just adapted to stuff. There wasn’t a person who didn’t get a chance to try their hardest. I’m just really proud of our team coming together.”

Marion (21-12) was looking for a return trip to state after reaching the semifinals last season. Similar to the regional semifinals against North Polk, the Indians were down, 2-1, after the third set. They dominated to a fourth-set victory, closing with an Ella Van Weelden block and Peyton Johnson kill to force a fifth.

Dallas Center-Grimes took control early, scoring 12 of the first 14 points. Outside hitter Grace Mikota tallied five kills during that stretch, including three straight to take a 6-1 advantage.

“They came at us in the fifth set,” Paulsen said. “We didn’t have an answer. We weren’t able to pass the ball well enough to set it. They kept us out of system.

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“When you make that decision that you want it bad enough, I think that’s a big turning point. They made the decision that they were going to go get it.”

Marion posted rallies throughout the match and continued to fight throughout the fifth. The Indians made a mini-comeback, winning five in a six-point stretch to make it 13-7. Dallas Center-Grimes managed two of the final three points to end it.

“We gave it our all,” Zika said. “I think the favorite thing about our team is no matter what happens everyone is on the same page. We want to win this game. We’re going to stay in it.

“No matter what was going on we were throwing ourselves to the ball. We were coming to the middle, cheering each other on.”

Marion will graduate four seniors that were part of last year’s state semifinal team. They witnessed the program reach state in four of the previous six seasons.

“They’re a big part of our program and what we’ve done,” Paulsen said. “We certainly will miss them next year.”

Dallas Center-Grimes (17-4) advances to the state volleyball tournament for the fourth time in school history. The Fillies qualified in 2018 and will play top-ranked Cedar Rapids Xavier Tuesday in Cedar Rapids.

“Coming here, we definitely had that in our minds, especially as seniors because we made it sophomore year,” Mikota said. “We know that feeling and we came in here ready to do it.”

Comments: (319) 368-8679; kj.pilcher@thegazette.com

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