116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
It was easy to fall for the half-empty approach with the Western Dubuque volleyball team.
The Bobcats lost so much to graduation after winning the Class 4A state championship in 2021, it was difficult to envision them rebounding so quickly.
But they did return a pair of all-staters (middle hitter Libby Lansing and libero Ella Meyer). And here are the Bobcats, unbeaten through five matches, their winning streak at 32.
Pencil them in among five area teams — some expected, some not — that crushed the opening week of the season:
The Blue Raiders were a mere 13-19 last year, but highlighted a 7-2 start by winning the championship of the Cascade Invitational on Saturday. Anamosa avenged a pool loss to Dyersville Beckman, topping the Blazers in the title match, 14-21, 21-16, 15-13.
This could be the start of something major; both of the Blue Raiders’ top attackers (Carlee Webber and Reise Neuhaus) are sophomores, and the primary setters (Sophie Sander and Joli Loughran) are a freshman and a sophomore.
At No. 9 in Class 4A, the Vikings (8-0) boast their highest ranking in more than a decade. They swept through five straight matches at the Charles City tournament on Saturday, then outlasted Saint Ansgar in five-setter Tuesday.
Senior Amelia Dugger is averaging 3.12 kills per set and owns a lofty .583 kill efficiency.
The Wolves (3-0) went to Johnston last Thursday and beat three ranked Class 5A teams — No. 4 Johnston, No. 12 Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln and No. 15 Iowa City High — to start their season.
Junior Michaela Goad swatted 24 kills in the three matches, and South Dakota commit Avery Van Hook tabulated 20 kills (hitting .500) and 61 assists.
Marion has a quad at Cedar Falls on Thursday, then headlines a 12-team tournament at Cedar Rapids Washington on Saturday.
The Knights kicked off a 9-0 start (19-0 in sets) with a title at the Independence tournament Saturday, which included impressive wins over West Delaware (the 2021 Class 3A state champion) and perennial 1A power Janesville.
They followed with three wins Tuesday, including an NICL East sweep of Jesup.
Senior Aubrey Gates (4.20 kills/set, .450 efficiency) leads the attack. Union is part of a strong tournament field at North Tama on Saturday.
After topping Linn-Mar in five sets to kick off the MVC schedule, the aforementioned Bobcats were shining stars at the MVC-MAC Challenge last Thursday, with 3A No. 4 Davenport Assumption among their three victims.
Ava Demmer has assumed setting duties upon the graduation of Madison Maahs, and has counted 160 assists in 10 sets. The 6-foot-1 Lansing is hitting at a .531 clip, Ally Reuter at .524.
Western Dubuque is part of a suffocating 16-team field — including 3A No. 1 Mount Vernon and 2A No. 1 Dike-New Hartford — at the Shirley Ryan Invitational Saturday at Mount Vernon.
Dyersville Beckman and Cascade: Neighbors Western Dubuque, Beckman and Cascade are a combined 15-2.
Lisbon (6-1): Stepped up in competition last Thursday, winning two of three at the Denver quad.
North Tama (5-0): Five wins at the Meskwaki Tournament, including a 1A top-10 showdown with Ankeny Christian.
Tri-County (3-0): The Trojans already have equaled their win total from 2021, when they went 3-24.