Prep Volleyball

Independence volleyball doesn't crack when it comes to crunch time

In deciding sets this season, Mustangs are 8-1

Independence’s Allie Jo Zieser hits during last year’s state volleyball tournament. The Mustangs host Monticello in a Class 3A regional semifinal Tuesday. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Independence’s Allie Jo Zieser hits during last year’s state volleyball tournament. The Mustangs host Monticello in a Class 3A regional semifinal Tuesday. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

If you plan to beat the Independence Mustangs, you’d be well-advised to do it quickly.

Get to a deciding set, and they’ve got you where they want you.

“We have some very competitive kids,” Independence Coach Joe Schmitz said. “They expect success, and when it comes down to the end, they feel like they can do it.”

Between five-set dual matches and three-set tournament matches, the Mustangs are 8-1. So if they go five in a postseason match, they’re golden.

Independence (28-11) continues its tournament run Tuesday with a Class 3A regional semifinal at home against Monticello (20-13). First serve is 7 p.m.

It’s a full slate of semifinals in 3A, 4A and 5A. For the bulk of the best 4A and 5A teams, it’s their first match in more than a week, due to first-round byes.

Class 5A second-ranked Iowa City Liberty (32-2) has been the area’s premier team in its third year of existence. The Lightning seek the program’s first postseason win Tuesday at North Liberty against Muscatine (6-16).

“You can use every cliche in the book, but we’re not looking past anybody,” Liberty Coach Randy Dolson said.

With the 10-day stretch between matches, Dolson gave his team a couple of days off after the Mississippi Valley Conference tournament Oct. 19, then the Lightning scrimmaged Center Point-Urbana last week.

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“That was good,” he said. “We wanted to keep our routine as normal as we could. We didn’t want to get too out of whack.”

Also among 5A Metro teams, No. 12 Cedar Rapids Kennedy (18-16) hosts Ames (10-26), No. 14 Iowa City High (16-14) hosts Iowa City West (6-26), Cedar Rapids Jefferson (13-17) is at Marshalltown (16-14) and Cedar Rapids Washington (1-33) travels to No. 1 Cedar Falls (39-1).

In 4A, No. 2 Cedar Rapids Xavier (26-6) hosts Newton (11-18), and No. 8 Marion (28-10) is home against Pella (18-18).

Independence has rebuilt nicely after losing a graduating class that included Madison Larson. The Mustangs reached the 4A state tournament last year.

“We’ve got good balance offensively, and we have a number of kids we can count on to play good floor defense,” Schmitz said. “Lexie Hearn has been an unsung hero for us, moving from outside hitter to the middle. Her willingness to change positions has been one of our keys this year.”

The Mustangs must contend Tuesday with Monticello’s Jordan Kuper, who ranks fourth in 3A with 4.85 kills per set.

“We’ve seen some dominant kids already this season,” Schmitz said. “We just hope to break even when she’s in the front row and take advantage when she’s in the back.”

Tuesday's Class 5A regional semifinals

All matches 7 p.m.

Region 4

Des Moines Roosevelt (25-13) at West Des Moines Dowling (30-11)

Iowa City West (6-26) at Iowa City High (16-14)

Region 5

Urbandale (20-16) at Ankeny (34-5)

Ames (10-26) at Cedar Rapids Kennedy (18-16)

Region 6

Cedar Rapids Washington (1-33) at Cedar Falls (39-1)

Cedar Rapids Jefferson (13-17) at Marshalltown (16-14)

Region 7

Muscatine (6-16) at Iowa City Liberty (32-2)

Linn-Mar (18-17) at Dubuque Hempstead (19-13)

Tuesday's Class 4A regional semifinals

All matches 7 p.m.

Region 4

Newton (11-18) at C.R. Xavier (26-6)

Bondurant-Farrar (18-17) at Gilbert (31-12)

Region 5

Pella (18-18) at Marion (28-10)

Carlisle (22-14) at Knoxville (25-7)

Region 6

Decorah (15-18) at West Delaware (37-5)

Charles City (18-25) at Center Point-Urbana (22-17)

Region 7

Western Dubuque (19-13) at Dubuque Wahlert (24-11)

Clinton (12-22) at Clear Creek Amana (23-14)

Tuesday's Class 3A regional semifinals

All matches 7 p.m.

Region 4

Dike-New Hartford (28-14) vs. Forest City (18-12), at Hampton

Roland-Story (29-10) at Union Community (28-11)

Region 5

Crestwood (19-16) at New Hampton (39-3)

Jesup (22-13) at Mount Vernon (31-10)

Region 6

Benton Community (17-22) at Davenport Assumption (29-5)

Monticello (20-13) at Independence (28-11)

Region 7

Williamsburg (15-19) at Tipton (31-6)

North Polk (30-10) at Nevada (31-9)

Region 8

Central Lee (23-10) at West Liberty (29-7)

Davis County (19-16) at Albia (28-9)

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

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