CORALVILLE — Let the record show that the first sports event at Xtream Arena was a down-to-the-wire thriller.
Left-hander Brooke Healey collected 19 kills to lead Class 5A 12th-ranked Dubuque Senior to a five-set victory over Cedar Rapids Kennedy, 25-16, 22-25, 25-23, 18-25, 15-13, in an MVC Valley Division volleyball match in the brand-new venue along the Iowa River.
“Our kids were in awe when they walked in,” Kennedy Coach Robin Fonck said. “They were in absolute awe to play in a place like this. They were thrilled to step onto a court like this. Then they came out and played their hearts out.”
But a few too many mistakes, and a few too many kills from Healey sealed the Cougars’ fate.
As was the case for much of the match, the Rams (12-6, 4-2) got in front in the finale, with the largest margin at 10-7.
Kennedy (14-7, 2-3) got within one point on four occasions, but a block by Payton Kizer clinched the match for the Rams.
Still, the Senior Night venue was a nice reward for the Cougars, who have been displaced from their gym since the Aug. 10 derecho.
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“It was insane, to say the least,” sophomore setter Mara Fluent said. “Being the first ones to play here, in this gym ... it was just insane.
“We found out three days ago that we’d be playing here. It was pretty sudden. I’m glad we picked this place. We even had a student section, so that was good.”
Kennedy fell behind in each set. Twice, the Cougars were able to climb out of a large deficit.
After losing Game 1, the Cougars faced deficits of 10-3 and 15-7 before storming back in the second set. A six-point string got them within 17-16, then they erased a 22-21 disadvantage with a closing four-point run — two kills by Ally Harris, then a kill and a block by Grace Techau.
Senior got up 14-4 in Game 3, but Kennedy got within 24-23 before the Rams closed it out. Then the Cougars rallied from a 10-5 hole in the fourth set, taking control with a late 6-0 run that featured three kills by Harris.
Molly Joyner posted a match-high 20 kills as the Cougars enjoyed a 62-45 advantage in that category. Fluent posted 44 assists.
“We had some good stretches, but we had some stretches in which we struggled in all aspects,” Fluent said. “We played well, then we didn’t play well.”
DUBUQUE SENIOR 3, CEDAR RAPIDS KENNEDY 2 (25-16, 22-25, 25-23, 18-25, 15-13)
At Coralville (Xtream Arena)
Serving: Senior 103-105 (.981), Kennedy 96-103 (.932)
Aces: Senior 10 (Emma Link 4), Kennedy 10 (Tessa Timmerman 4)
Kills: Senior 45 (Brooke Healey 19), Kennedy 62 (Molly Joyner 20)
Assists: Senior 41 (Katelyn Egan 32), Kennedy 58 (Mara Fluent 44)
Blocks: Senior 11 (Healey 5), Kennedy 4 (Rylee Jaeger 2)
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