Prep Volleyball

Western Christian's Tammi Veerbeek stands alone at the top in Iowa high school volleyball

Wolfpack top Beckman in 2A for their 18th title, and Veerbeek's 12th

CEDAR RAPIDS — Tammi Veerbeek probably doesn’t want it to get out, but she’s really a softie.

“It’s kind of a cliche, but the girls won’t care how much you know,” she said ...

A tear fell from both eyes.

“ ... until they know how much your care.

“More than anything I’m super happy when these kids reach their goal. I’m super competitive ...”

More tears.

“ ... but I can be a big baby, too.”

Veerbeek is also the queen of volleyball coaching in Iowa. When top-ranked Western Christian defeated No. 3 Dyersville Beckman (20-25, 25-18, 28-26, 25-16) for the Class 2A championship Friday night at the U.S. Cellular Center, it was her 12th title.

That vaulted her past former Dubuque Wahlert coach (and current Iowa High School Athletic Association director) Tom Keating, who won 11.

“I finally beat Tom Keating,” Veerbeek said. “When I played (at Western), his teams beat ours for the championship in 1990 and 1991. So it feels good to be on top of him.”

It’s the 18th crown overall for Western (41-5).

“Every day, Coach pushes us as hard as she can,” senior Macay Van’t Hul said. “But she loves to joke around, too.”

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The pivotal moment of the match came at the end of the third set. Beckman (42-9) scored three straight points — on kills from Jada Wills, Chloe Ungs amd Kiersten Schmitt — for a 25-24 lead, and the Blazers were one point away from a 2-1 set advantage.

Instead, Emma Westphal’s kill kept the Wolfpack afloat. After the teams traded errors, Western won it on kills from Westphal and Sienna Moss.

Big, big moment.

“Game 3 was huge,” Beckman Coach Todd Troutman said. “We weren’t consistent passing the ball tonight, and (Western) is just so efficient.

“We knew it was going to be a fistfight, we had to match swing for swing. In Game 4, we didn’t pass well enough to get into a flow.”

Wills, the all-tournament captain said, “When we lost the third set, it was definitely a momentum-killer, and maybe a confidence-killer.

“We had a little fight left, but in the end, we weren’t the best team today.”

Schmitt led Beckman with 14 kills, and also made the all-tournament team. So did Van’t Hul, Olivia Granstra and Tori Wynja of Western, along with Morgan Middleton of Clarion CGD and Paige Kisley of Osage.

Beckman scored the final six points to erase a 20-19 deficit and win the opening set.

“We played good volleyball, especially at the start,” Schmitt said. “But we got down at times, and they were able to make some runs.”

Veerbeek owns a 915-101 mark in 21 years at Western, including 51-8 at state.

Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

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