CEDAR RAPIDS — The usual postmatch photo op wasn’t so standard.
Western Christian players put on their pink championship T-shirts and received their gold medals. Unity Christian players walked under the net to congratulate the friends they prayed with before Friday’s Class 2A state volleyball final. They interspersed, and a unique picture was snapped on the floor of the U.S. Cellular Center.
“I thought it was a great opportunity to show that, yes, that was a competitive moment, but at the end of it, we’re still sisters,” Western Christian coach Tammi Veerbeek said.
Third-ranked Western’s 25-16, 21-25, 25-23, 25-7 win over No. 5 Unity, a fellow Christian school 16 miles down the road, represented a third state championship in four years and 17th overall. It’s the 11th title for Veerbeek, tying former Dubuque Wahlert coach Tom Keating for most all-time.
“Kind of overwhelming,” Veerbeek said. “I’ve had great teams come through. We have a great culture built up at Western Christian volleyball, a great tradition. It’s not just one player.”
And that was the theme for this match and this team.
Western’s leaders in kills Friday totaled 11, 11, 10 and eight apiece, led by Chandler Schemper and Ally Postma. Tori Wynja had 10 kills, 18 assists and 12 digs. Olivia Granstra notched 28 assists.
“We’ve said all along we don’t have one big star like we’ve had in other years,” Veerbeek said.
Postma and middle hitter Macay Van’t Hul (eight kills) were named to the all-tournament team, as was libero Madison Hofman.
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It was Hofman’s dig that led to Western (42-5) closing a tight third set and changing the outlook of the match. With one hand extended, she directed the ball toward the net, where Postma emphatically finished off a 25-23 win to go up 2-1 after dropping Game 2.
The Wolfpack bolted to a 7-2 lead in the fourth and the Knights never made a dent.
“We just knew that we had to stay relaxed and not worry about what they were doing, but what we were doing on our side,” Hofman said.
All-tournament captain Corrina Timmermans finished with 18 kills, but Unity’s 18-15 Game 3 lead slipped away and the Knights (32-7) fell to Western for the fourth time this season.
“When there’s a bunch of different girls that can hit, you don’t know where to set the block, so you’re not expecting where the hit will go or the set will go,” said Timmermans, who was named all-tournament captain.
Jori Bronner of Unity Christian, Sydney Steffen of Dyersville Beckman and Kelsey Hobbie of Sidney also earned all-tournament honors.
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