CEDAR RAPIDS — A five-set match can make some volleyball teams wilt.
Not Mount Vernon. The Mustangs were right at home.
“Yeah, that definitely made a difference,” Camryn Ellyson said. “That definitely helped.”
For the third straight postseason match, Mount Vernon was forced to go the distance. And for the third straight time, the Mustangs mustered enough to come through in a pinch.
Seventh-ranked Mount Vernon erased a match point in Game 4, then pulled away from a 6-6 tie in the finale to outlast No. 5 West Liberty, 25-13, 23-25, 21-25, 29-27, 15-11, in a Class 3A quarterfinal at the state volleyball tournament Wednesday afternoon at the U.S. Cellular Center.
“Our mantra was to stay in the battle and compete, and we were able to do that enough to win,” said Mount Vernon Coach Maggie Willems, who earned career win No. 250.
The Mustangs (34-10) advance to face No. 13 Union Community (31-11) — another five-set victor, over No. 1 Davenport Assumption — in the semifinal round at 2 p.m. Thursday.
Mount Vernon has vanquished Jesup (regional semifinal), New Hampton (regional final) and now West Liberty (state quarterfinal) in consecutive five-setters.
The Comets (31-8) had a chance to eliminate the Mustangs, leading 25-24 in Game 4, but Madi Cranston’s kill kept Mount Vernon alive. Lauren Schrock’s kill eventually gave the Mustangs the set.
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“We fell short when we had the chance,” said West Liberty’s Macy Daufeldt, who led the Comets with 25 kills. “Then in the fifth set, we couldn’t find the momentum to come back.”
A University of Iowa commit who led all attackers with 29 kills, Schrock struck again in Game 5, notching three straight kills for a 9-6 Mount Vernon lead.
“We couldn’t get out of the rotation when their strong hitter was in there,” West Liberty Coach Ruben Galvan said, referring to Schrock.
The Mustangs led the rest of the way and Ellyson’s kill at the end closed the door.
Mount Vernon scored the first five points of the match and breezed through the opening set before the Comets answered by winning a pair of close sets.
Ellyson added 14 kills for the Mustangs, and Cranston recorded 12. Summer Brand collected 60 assists and nine of Mount Vernon’s 17 aces, and Jorie Randall posted 19 digs.
Martha Pace had 14 kills for the Comets. Morgan Peterson dished out 41 assists, and Monica Morales counted 15 digs.
A lot of the Mustangs have played here before. But this was the state debut for Schrock, who transferred from Solon after last season.
“It’s a lot different from high-school gyms. It’s super loud,” said Schrock, who brought her own noise.
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