CEDAR RAPIDS — On many occasions this season, a deficit was a death sentence for the Kennedy Cougars’ hopes.
“We’d get in a hole, and we’d stay in a hole. We’d start losing confidence,” Laila Sain said.
Not Wednesday. Not by a long shot.
Cedar Rapids Kennedy raced back from a 17-11 second-set deficit with a 14-3 surge and swept Cedar Rapids Washington, 25-14, 25-20, 25-12, in a Class 5A regional-quarterfinal volleyball match at Washington High School.
The Cougars (10-22) avenged two regular-season losses to Washington and advance to face fourth-ranked Cedar Rapids Jefferson in a regional semifinal Tuesday at Jefferson. The J-Hawks (37-6) earned a first-round bye and were there Wednesday to witness the match.
“If we come in strong and confident, anything can happen,” Sain said. “It’s going to be a lot different from the last time we played them.”
Kennedy rolled through the first set. The turning point came in the second.
The Warriors (14-24) jumped in front, 8-2, and were still seemingly in control at 17-11. But the Cougars scored five straight to get back in the hunt, then closed out the set with a six-point run — three on kills from Sain.
“It was all energy,” Sain said. “If we don’t have that energy, we’d have lost that set and the whole match might have been different.”
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Washington Coach Olivia Pikokivaka said, “When we lose two or three points in a row, sometimes we kind of check out, and by the time the effort comes back, it’s too late.”
The Cougars jumped to an 8-3 lead in the finale, and were never really threatened. At 15-11, they scored 10 of the final 11 points to complete the sweep.
Sain finished with a match-high 14 kills, and Jenna Anderson added nine for the winners.
“We have more depth now, and we’ve built some connections,” said Kennedy setter Abby Feldmann, who notched 34 assists.
Gracie Stark collected five kills for the Warriors, who concluded their best season since 2013.
CEDAR RAPIDS KENNEDY 3, CEDAR RAPIDS WASHINGTON 0 (25-14, 25-20, 25-12)
At C.R. Washington
Serving — Kennedy 63-74 (.851), Washington 39-47 (.830)
Aces — Kennedy 8 (Jenna Anderson 4), Washington 3 (three with 1)
Kills — Kennedy 36 (Laila Sain 14), Washington 22 (Gracie Stark 5)
Assists — Kennedy 36 (Abby Feldmann 34), Washington 22 (Katheryn Holtz 21)
Blocks — Kennedy 4 (Mikayla Winter 3), Washington 1 (Corrine Peterson)
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