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Liberty recovers from a messy opening set, tops Urbandale in a 5A state volleyball first-rounder
Cassidy Hartman collects 21 kills, 22 digs as Bolts advance
CORALVILLE — Once they stopped beating themselves, the Liberty Lightning could begin the process of beating Urbandale.
Error-plagued early, top-ranked Iowa City Liberty got it in gear in the final three sets and topped No. 11 Urbandale, 22-25, 25-20, 25-20, 25-17 in a Class 5A quarterfinal at the state volleyball tournament Monday afternoon at Xtream Arena.
“That first set was really, really rough,” Liberty’s Lilah Van Scoyoc said. “When we came off the court (after the first set), we knew what we needed to do.”
Namely, take a breath and play their game.
Ousted in Round 1 last year as the No. 1 seed, the Lightning (31-8) made a U-turn Monday and advanced.
They’ll face No. 6 Ankeny Centennial (30-9) in a semifinal match at 10 a.m. Wednesday. The Jaguars outlasted No. 4 West Des Moines Dowling in four sets.
“Winning that first one, it feels good,” Cassidy Hartman said. “It takes a lot of pressure off. Now we can come in (Wednesday) and do our thing.”
A two-time Elite all-state selection and a University of Northern Iowa commit, Hartman rebounded from an erratic first set to collect 21 kills and 22 digs.
Hartman posted five kills and seven errors in Game 1. In the last three sets, she hit a much-better .297.
“My hitting wasn’t working in the first set, so I started focusing on getting the ball in and getting them out of system,” Hartman said.
Liberty Coach Allie Kelly said, “Cassidy places high expectations on herself. But her teammates have her back. And even though she was making some hitting errors, she was still passing well and serving well.”
Despite 25 kills from Urbandale’s Lily Dykstra (another UNI recruit), Liberty out-killed the J-Hawks (16-20) by a 57-43 margin.
Shelby Kimm contributed 14 kills for Liberty. Van Scoyoc added 11, Gracie Hennings eight.
Hennings averaged less than a kill per set before Monday.
“Leading up to state, I was working hard on making a setter/hitter connection,” she said.
⧉ Related article: Photos: Iowa City Liberty vs. Urbandale in Class 5A state volleyball quarterfinals
Asta Hildebrand distributed 29 assists, Mariah Rollins 18 for the Bolts.
Urbandale scored eight straight points for a 10-4 lead in the first set, then held off the Lightning at the end.
But the Bolts controlled the last three sets. Their latest deficit in Game 2 was 2-1; same in Game 3. In the finale, they scored the first five points and pulled steadily away after the J-Hawks got within 11-9.
Liberty has not faced Centennial this season.
“We’re excited for the next one,” Hennings said.