CEDAR RAPIDS — After losing the last three years in the state volleyball semifinals, No. 1 Osage wasn’t about to give in.
The Green Devils fell to No. 4 Davenport Assumption in a tight first set, then faced two set points to go down 2-0.
“We’re known for fighting back,” said senior hitter Danielle Johnson. “We’ve been in a lot of matches where we have started slow and finished strong. We showed just how much push back we have as a team.”
With Johnson and fellow senior Paige Kisley leading the way, Osage came from behind to win the set and rallied again to win the third set after trailing 13-7. It controlled the fourth set and went on to a 23-25, 26-24, 25-23, 25-17 victory in a Class 3A semifinal on Wednesday at Alliant Energy PowerHouse.
Now 33-2, the Green Devils will be in search of the school’s first state volleyball title on Thursday against No. 3 Mount Vernon, which advanced with a sweep over Clarion CGD.
Assumption retires at 23-3.
“We just told the girls to play Osage-style volleyball,” said Coach Bryan Tabbert. “Our girls are very happy girls, they always have a smile on their face no matter what. They settled down a little bit, got the momentum and went from there.”
It also helped that the Green Devils came up with a way to slow down Assumption’s Ava Schubert. The 6-foot-1 senior was a force for much of the first two sets. In the final two sets, Osage found a way to slow her down a bit.
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“We just kind of got in better alignment with her,” Kisley said. “We were kind of leaning (to cover the) line a little bit and once we adjusted our block, it was all good.”
Both teams did an outstanding job of scrambling on defense, which wasn’t a surprise to Tabbert.
“They’ve got a good team and we’ve got some good players,” he said. “It didn’t surprise me to see both teams keep balls in play.”
Johnson thought the third set win may have deflated Assumption just a bit.
“It seemed like once one person got a kill for us, another one got a kill and we weren’t going to let up,” she said.
The senior added that her team believes it is their time.
“For the last three years we’ve lost in the semis,” she said. “We finally finished the job and now were going to go out and win a state championship tomorrow.”
Johnson and Kisley led the offense with 19 kills apiece. Schubert led the Knights with 19 kills.