CEDAR RAPIDS — About once per set, Jaden Daffer gets her chance.
“I see the set coming toward me and I think, ‘OK, here we go,’” said Daffer, a 5-foot-1 (maybe) libero from Sidney. “I just have to breathe and make sure I don’t hit it out, and don’t hit it into the net.”
Daffer surely isn’t the first option when the Cowgirls need a kill. But she’s a viable threat to do more than just pass and dig from the back row.
She posted three kills (fourth highest on the team) Wednesday afternoon, and the fourth-ranked Cowgirls defeated No. 7 Tri-Center, 27-25, 25-17, 20-25, 25-16, in a Class 2A quarterfinal at the state volleyball tournament at the U.S. Cellular Center.
That increased her season kill total to 13.
Before Daffer and fellow senior Camryn McClintock entered the high-school doors of Sidney, the volleyball program had never sniffed a state appearance. And now, four in the last four years.
The Cowgirls were 1A runners-up in 2015, but Wednesday’s victory was their first win here since. Sidney (39-2) will face No. 3 Western Christian (40-5) in a semifinal at 4 p.m. Thursday.
“We wanted to come back here and win at least one,” McClintock said. “Now, we’ll see what we can do next.”
Sidney overcame adversity early; Makenna Jarosz — the Cowgirls’ third-leading hitter this season — went down with a knee injury and didn’t return.
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“I knew I had to be a team leader,” McClintock said. “I think we held our composure pretty well.”
Down 20-17 in the opener, Sidney scored five straight and didn’t trail again in Game 1. With the set tied at 25, Sidney won it on a kill by Kelsey Hobbie and an ace by McClintock.
After dropping Game 3, the Cowgirls pulled steadily away in the fourth set.
McClintock led the Cowgirls with 24 kills. Hobbie added 18 and Presley Brumbaugh tallied 10. Olivia Larsen posted 53 assists.
Emma McDonald paced Tri-Center (31-8) with 19 kills.
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