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Cedar Rapids Jefferson overcomes slow starts in regional volleyball sweep

J-Hawks move on to regional finals with 3-0 win over Prairie

Cedar Rapids Jefferson volleyball players celebrate a point during a match earlier this season. The J-Hawks will play for a state tournament berth next week. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Cedar Rapids Jefferson volleyball players celebrate a point during a match earlier this season. The J-Hawks will play for a state tournament berth next week. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — The jitters were there for No. 4 Cedar Rapids Jefferson.

The J-Hawks fell behind Cedar Rapids Prairie early in each set in Tuesday night’s Class 5A Region 8 semifinal volleyball match at Jefferson.

However, the slow starts were more than made up for with dominating finishes as Jefferson (35-5) downed the visiting Hawks, 25-20, 25-11, 25-11, to advance to the regional final next Monday night at home against No. 13 Iowa City High. The Little Hawks advanced Monday with a 25-22, 25-18, 25-22 win over Muscatine.

Prairie retires at 18-21.

“We definitely had the jitters to start,” Jefferson co-coach Amy Norton said. “We didn’t play in the first round and it has been a little while since we’ve been in a match and it showed at times, but once we got into the flow we started playing much better.”

Jefferson is a veteran team with 10 seniors on the roster. Having that experience was key to calming down, according to senior Lindsey Culver.

“We didn’t start well, but we didn’t let it bother us,” Culver said. “For so many of us, this is our last shot as Jefferson volleyball players so we were able to calm down and regain control.

Culver and fellow senior Sydney Kloubec had big nights both at the net and serving. Culver had a big serving run in Game 2 while Kloubec served nine straight points in Game 2 as the J-Hawks closed it out on 10-1 run. In Game 3, both players played a big role in a 9-2 run to close out the match.

“Our serving was very good tonight,” Norton said. “It caused Prairie to be out of rhythm with their passing and we were able to take advantage.

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Now the J-Hawks have one more match on their home floor with a chance to earn a second straight trip to the state tournament.

“I’m excited to get one more game in this gym,” Culver said. “The atmosphere will be loud and we will have so much support.”

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