CEDAR RAPIDS — Dubuque Wahlert had a big hole to fill when 2016 state player of the year Makenzie May graduated.
Enter Aliyah Carter.
A sophomore transfer from Dubuque Hempstead, Carter set a Class 4A record with 34 kills, and second-ranked Wahlert outlasted No. 4 Sergeant Bluff-Luton in five sets (23-25, 25-7, 25-16, 19-25, 15-8) for its second consecutive 4A volleyball championship Friday afternoon at the U.S. Cellular Center.
“I was so excited when I heard she was coming,” Wahlert’s Anna Herrig said. “I knew she had a lot of talent.
“She completes this team.”
Down 6-4 in the fifth set, Wahlert (22-9) scored seven straight points to sway the momentum for good, and the Golden Eagles captured their state-high 19th championship.
There had been some lean years between the 17th title (in 2005) and the 18th, but the Golden Eagles unquestionably are back now.
An outside hitter, Carter was selected the all-tournament captain and was joined by teammates Krystal Tranel and Jenna Gremmel, as well as Sergeant Bluff-Luton’s Madison Harms and Kylee Christensen, Cedar Rapids Xavier’s Charlotte Richards and Lewis Central’s Katherine Poore.
Carter was a starter as a freshman last year as Hempstead reached the 5A state tournament, then opted to transfer.
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“It was a big deal to me,” she said. “I didn’t know if it was going to work out, but it did.”
Sergeant Bluff-Luton (42-4) was unranked before the season, then steadily moved up the ratings throughout the season, won the first state match in school history, then knocked off No. 1 Cedar Rapids Xavier in the semifinals.
“At the end, we just fell a little short,” Christensen said. “Wahlert had an incredible team.”
After dropping the first set, Wahlert motored through the next two. But SBL went on a 6-1 run to open a 20-14 lead in Game 4, setting the stage for the finale.
In addition to three kills, Carter served two aces in Game 5.
Mykenna Horchak added 18 kills for the winners. Anna Sherman tallied 10. Gremmel counted 58 assists.
Elle Sneller and Kenzie Foley posted 13 kills apiece for Sergeant Bluff-Luton.
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