CEDAR RAPIDS – There will be no “four-peat” in Class 5A.
Three-time defending state champion Ankeny Centennial took its share of swings, but ultimately could not overcome Madi Kubik and the West Des Moines Valley Tigers.
Kubik equaled her own 5A state tournament record with 31 kills in just three games as the second-ranked Tigers swept Centennial, 25-23, 26-24, 25-22, in a Class 5A volleyball state semifinal Thursday at the U.S. Cellular Center.
“I was really trying to have the mindset of getting kills for our team,” said Kubik, a junior. “We were working as a unit. That was what was going to help us win the ballgame. Doing my role on the team and knowing what we were working toward and what we have in mind.”
What Valley has in mind is a first appearance in the 5A state championship match against top-ranked Cedar Falls (42-2) Friday at 10 a.m. The Tigers swept No. 5 Linn-Mar in the other semifinal.
“I think it’s crazy, it makes me so excited,” Valley senior middle hitter Cassie Yardley said. “For me as a senior, there’s a lot on the line and we’ve been working so hard this season. We just need to execute and just put our heads in the game (Friday).”
Kubik – a Nebraska commit – broke a 14-14 tie for Valley (41-7) in Game 1 with the first of three-straight points and one of 13 kills in the game.
Centennial jumped on the Tigers in Game 2 with an 18-9 lead that served notice of the potential for another five-game semifinal classic like last season, but a Valley timeout sparked a comeback.
“We were really focusing on being aggressive and keeping our composure,” Kubik said.
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The Tigers closed the second game with a 17-6 surge, corralled all of the momentum and set the stage for a startling sweep.
“Our kids just developed that momentum and just got excited instead of that nerve that you kind of sometimes see in those moments,” West Des Moines Valley Coach Jeremy Mikesell said.
Centennial (30-8) fought to extend the match to a fourth game with a 19-16 lead, but Kubik started another Valley rally that included a pair of crucial Yardley blocks and the Tigers again closed strong with nine of 12 points.
“Madi does Madi things,” Mikesell said. “There aren’t too many other people that can do Madi things. She puts us in situations where we can be successful.”
Junior libero Camryn Anonson led Valley with 16 digs, while Kubik added nine. Sophomore setter Olivia Curry tallied 29 assists and added seven kills and seven digs.
Six-foot-1 sophomore middle hitter Devyn Robinson – a Wisconsin recruit – led Centennial with 13 kills, while Missouri commit Kenna Sauer collected eight kills and 12 digs.
“We needed to finish,” Ankeny Centennial Coach Jessica Rinehart said. “We had leads. We got tentative and started tipping where we were putting the ball away. Madi Kubik is pretty special. She did a good job of keeping our defense off balance by swinging hard. … It just felt ike she was coming after us all morning.”
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