Prep Volleyball

Cedar Rapids Xavier seniors begin final quest for a state volleyball championship

No. 1 Saints open 4A postseason with a challenge against No. 14 Pella

Jazmine Yamilkoski is part of the most decorated senior class in Cedar Rapids Xavier volleyball history. The Saints begi
Jazmine Yamilkoski is part of the most decorated senior class in Cedar Rapids Xavier volleyball history. The Saints begin the postseason Thursday with a Class 4A regional-semifinal match at home against Pella. (Cliff Jette/Freelance for The Gazette)

They’ve won a lot of matches, earned a lot of honors. They are the most decorated senior class in program history.

Thursday, they begin their final volleyball postseason together, aiming to cement their legacy with a championship.

“I don’t think they’ve accomplished everything they want,” Cedar Rapids Xavier coach Austin Filer said. “They’ve helped take Xavier to some great spots. They hold a lot of our school records. But they still have their eyes on something bigger.”

The first step for the top-ranked Saints (21-6) isn’t exactly a gimme; they welcome No. 14 Pella (23-11) to Ron Thillen Gymnasium for a 7 p.m. match.

“It’s not a typical first-round opponent,” Filer said. “But I think we’re prepared. We’ve seen everybody we could see, played everybody that would play us.”

Seven seniors are on the Xavier varsity roster, and three of them — Jazmine Yamilkoski, Eve Magill and Katy Garrison — have made an impact for four years. The team ledger includes a four-year record of 113-26, with three state appearances, including a semifinal trip in 2017 and a run to the finals in 2018.

Western Dubuque upset the Saints in the first round last year.

Yamilkoski has delivered 2,717 assists in her career, with Magill collecting 998 kills and Garrison 531.

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With the knowledge that a positive COVID-19 test could sideline a team, coaches and players are on edge.

“We’ve had to do some tracking and tracing the last few days, but we’re OK right now,” Filer said.

Western Dubuque Coach Megan Scherrman said, “Every time the phone rings, I cringe a little.”

One area team — 4A ninth-ranked Clear Creek Amana — already has shut down due to the virus.

Last year’s state-tournament surprise, No. 5 Western Dubuque (22-10) hosts Benton Community (11-24) Thursday.

“It’s a different situation now,” Scherrman said. “Last year, we had nothing to lose and we played tough. Now we’re expected to get back there and we can’t let the pressure get to us.”

Thursday’s winners in 4A and 5A advance to the regional finals Tuesday.

Thursday’s Class 5A regional semifinals

(All matches, 7 p.m.)

Region 5

Waterloo West (9-18) at Cedar Rapids Prairie (18-14)

Region 6

Cedar Rapids Jefferson (9-17) at Dubuque Hempstead (18-5)

Linn-Mar (12-14) at Dubuque Senior (17-9)

Region 7

Iowa City West (13-14) at Iowa City Liberty (20-2)

Cedar Rapids Kennedy (15-15) at Bettendorf (11-6)

Thursday’s Class 4A regional semifinals

(All matches, 7 p.m.)

Region 3

Pella (23-11) at Cedar Rapids Xavier (21-6)

Norwalk (18-17) at Oskaloosa (20-7)

Region 4

North Polk (21-12) at Marion (20-11)

Bondurant-Farrar (24-10) at Dallas Center-Grimes (15-4)

Region 5

Decorah (19-11) at Waverly-Shell Rock (37-8)

Webster City (14-14) at Gilbert (24-9)

Region 6

Charles City (17-16) at West Delaware (26-11)

Region 7

Benton Community (11-24) at Western Dubuque (22-10)

Dubuque Wahlert (6-17) at Clinton (17-12)

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

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