CEDAR RAPIDS — There will be a new state Class 5A volleyball champion in 2020.
Cedar Falls started out like a team determined to defend its title in Monday’s Class 5A quarterfinal match with Pleasant Valley.
The No. 3 Spartans (21-1) quickly flipped the script, but it certainly wasn’t easy. Coach Amber Hall’s team saved some of its biggest moments for the end of each of the final three sets to oust No. 6 Cedar Falls, 20-25, 25-21, 25-22, 25-23 at Alliant Energy PowerHouse.
Pleasant Valley advances to meet No. 2 Ankeny in a 10 a.m. Wednesday semifinal match.
Junior setter Cora Ruff, one of three returning starters from last year’s state semifinal team, didn’t think the Spartans were ready at the start. They fell behind 18-9 in Game 1 and weren’t able to overcome that deficit.
“We definitely did not come out with a lot of energy,” Ruff said. “We had them scouted pretty well, but we didn’t do a very good job of following that scouting report in the first set.
“I think we had some nerves too and that showed. (Cedar Falls) had a lot of fans and I think that bothered us, too. I think in the second set, we just did a better job of playing our game.”
The difference came down to the Spartans getting a big point when it mattered most. And when Pleasant Valley needed a big swing, senior Emily Wood was the one coming through much of the time. She finished with 19 kills.
“Having her experience out there really helped us a lot today,” Ruff said. “I can always go to her and she handles the pressure supper well.”
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Ruff, who has more than 2,000 career assists in just three seasons, finished with 52 in Monday’s match.
For Wood, who is an all-state softball player and has committed to play at Iowa State, she relished the opportunity to come through when called upon.
“Knowing that I have been here before and some of the other girls hadn’t been in this pressure situation, I tried to treat it like any other match,” Wood said. “Once we started to loosen up and relax, I felt like we were in good shape.”
Junior Arra Cottrell added 18 kills and sophomore Chloe Kline finished with 11. Junior Livia Thomsen had 21 digs.
Emily Wedgbury led Cedar Falls with 18 kills and 19 digs. Katie Remmert added 16 kills. Halia Mahi had 42 assists.