CEDAR RAPIDS — For the first time in school history, the Xavier volleyball team competed as a nationally ranked team.
Only 100 teams across the country receive this honor each week by PrepVolleyball.com. The Saints made their debut in the Sept. 6 rankings, but have since fallen out. They are ranked No, 2 in Iowa, in Class 4A.
These rankings don’t come without hard work.
“When we are in the gym, we work extremely hard,” senior Olivia Richards said. “We are there to get better and push each other to be the best we can be.”
The Saints lost five seniors from last year’s state semifinal team and have had to change what they do on and off the court.
“I think people doubted us and thought we would not be very good this year because we lost a lot of really good players from last year,” senior Emily Jasper said.
They are 23-6 heading into Saturday’s Mississippi Valley Conference meet at Waterloo East.
“It comes with a lot of pressure and it puts a target on our backs because other teams want to beat a ranked team,” Jasper said.
The Saints lost to Class 5A top-ranked Cedar Falls on Sept. 25 and went 2-3 at the Mother McAuley High School tournament in Chicago.
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“They are probably the best team in Iowa we will play all year,” senior Keera Ball said of Cedar Falls. “This loss is only motivation to work harder and still reach our end goal.”
The Saints made school history once this year and are looking to make it a second time by being the first Xavier volleyball team to win a state championship. They have lost in the state semifinals the past two years.
“We know that being ranked will not win us a state championship,” Richards said. “We need to put in the work if we want the outcome.”