CEDAR RAPIDS – For the first time in two years, Dubuque Wahlert got pushed at the state volleyball tournament.
True to their championship pedigree, the second-ranked Golden Eagles pushed back in decisive fashion.
Senior Mykenna Horchak recorded 18 kills as Wahlert overcame two game points in the second game of a 25-16, 30-28, 25-15 sweep of No. 6 Lewis Central in a Class 4A volleyball state semifinal Thursday at the U.S. Cellular Center.
“It shows that they can battle,” Wahlert Coach Lindsey Beaves said. “They have a little grit. I think that’s really important, especially playing for a state title. I thought being put in that situation was huge for us and I’m proud of the way we stayed with it and we came out on top.”
Wahlert (21-9) will play for a second-straight state title Friday at 12:15 p.m. against No. 4 Sergeant Bluff-Luton (42-3), a winner in five games over top-ranked Cedar Rapids Xavier.
“It’s going to take a lot of energy, everything we have,” junior Carolyn Conlon said. “We all have to work together and communicate and take care of our side, especially. If we do that, everything will fall into place when we do the little things.”
Last season, no game was closer than four points during the Golden Eagles’ march to the 4A title. After a 25-16 win in Game 1, Lewis Central broke a 22-22 tie with two of three points in an effort to tie the match at a game apiece. A second opportunity arrived at 25-24, but Wahlert had an answer every time.
Kills by Conlon and sophomore Aliyah Carter won the second game for Wahlert, 30-28.
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“It was really important to keep our energy up and not let them back in,” said Conlon, who posted eight kills. “Just to take care of everything on our side.”
In the clincher, Wahlert ran away from a 4-3 lead with an 11-4 burst that delivered the Golden Eagles to the 4A championship match for the second year in a row.
“We really don’t think about, ‘Yeah, we’re the state champions from last year,’” Carter said. “We think about trying to get another win.”
Carter finished with 16 kills and nine digs, while senior libero Krystal Tranel led the Golden Eagles with 16 digs.
“Coming in, we had a lot of confidence,” Tranel said. “Most of us had been here last year, so that helped a lot.”
Sophomore outside hitter Megan Witte led Lewis Central (33-6) with 11 kills, while Nebraska-Kearney basketball signee Meagan Holt added nine with eight digs.
Six-foot-2 senior outside hitter Katherine Poore tallied four kills and a team-high 13 digs for the Titans.
“They have some really good hitters,” said Poore, a Bradley signee. “I didn’t think we hit around the block very well and their serve-receive was really unbreakable today.”
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