116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Hot take? Heck, no.
Call it a guarantee: Cedar Rapids Kennedy isn’t finishing sixth in the MVC Valley Division again.
The Class 5A eighth-ranked Cougars played at a level that in no way resembled August volleyball, instead looking like a fine-tuned engine in a home sweep of No. 11 Iowa City West on Tuesday.
Scores were 27-25, 25-16 and 25-10.
“Everybody was super excited for this,” Kennedy’s Molly Joyner said. “We’ve been busting our butts, every day.”
Setter Mara Fluent said the same thing, with just a touch less filter.
“We’ve been working our asses off in the gym, and we came in here ready to go,” she said.
This was the Cougars’ first home match in 22 months; the 2020 derecho kept them out of their gymnasium last season.
They returned Tuesday, and they sparkled in the spotlight.
“The crowd, the fans, the parents, the atmosphere in this gym ... just to get back here, it really lifted us,” Fluent said.
Kennedy (1-0, 1-0 MVC Valley) let a 23-19 first-set lead get away and was on the verge of dropping the opener. But after a West attack error, the Cougars came up with two deciding points, on an ace by Tessa Timmerman and a kill by Joyner.
The remainder of the match was a blitz, with the Cougars owning a 30-8 kill advantage in the final two sets.
It culminated with a sprint, a 13-point surge after West (0-1, 0-1) had crept within 11-9 in the finale.
Joyner led all attackers with 13 kills. Emma Koeppen added 10 for the Cougars, Megan Feldmann eight. Fluent recorded 35 assists.
Both teams, along with Cedar Rapids Prairie, will represent the MVC in its annual challenge here Thursday against Mississippi Athletic Conference heavyweights Pleasant Valley, North Scott and Bettendorf.
All three of the MAC teams are ranked. But based on Tuesday’s eye test, Kennedy won’t be outclassed.
“If we come out with this energy and this intensity, we can do well,” Fluent said.
And long term?
“We’re definitely capable of going far,” Joyner said. “There’s so much more that we can do.
“When we get to November, we can make an impact.”
CEDAR RAPIDS KENNEDY 3, IOWA CITY WEST 0 (27-25, 25-16, 25-10)
At C.R. Kennedy
Serving: West 46-52 (.885), Kennedy 72-76 (.947)
Aces: West 2 (Alaina Greenlee, Emma Dunlap), Kennedy 7 (Ally Harris, Tessa Timmerman 2)
Kills: West 20 (Melae Lacy 7), Kennedy 43 (Molly Joyner 13)
Assists: West 19 (Dunlap 16), Kennedy 42 (Mara Fluent 35)
Blocks: West 9 (Sophia Deyak 3), Kennedy 7 (Megan Feldmann, Kaliyah Sain 3)