116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Burlington Notre Dame looked vulnerable in the semifinals.
But that was then.
As the finish line drew near, the Nikes sprinted across. Top-ranked Notre Dame upped its game Thursday and topped No. 3 Springville in the Class 1A volleyball championship match, 21-25, 25-16, 25-21, 25-20, at the Alliant Energy PowerHouse.
“We had a target on our backs, and to win it with that target ... to go back-to-back ... it’s pretty amazing,” said junior Gabby Deery, the all-tournament captain.
As was the case in the quarterfinal match against Tri-Center, the Nikes (38-8) dropped the first set before coming back strong.
They had their hands full in the semifinals, too, winning all three sets by two points. But they played their best match of the week Thursday when their best match was necessary.
“We watched film of their semifinal match, and they definitely looked vulnerable,” Springville Coach Claude Howard said. “But they showed what championship volleyball was about.”
Springville (35-5) was making its seventh state appearance in the last nine years, and its first appearance in the finals. The Orioles bookended the first set with a couple of 8-1 runs, and won it.
“We came out hot,” senior Lauren Wilson said. “Coming in, we knew we had a chance to win. We just had to step up.”
Wilson and Molly Stamp spearheaded the Orioles’ late push after Notre Dame took a 20-17 lead. Wilson had six kills and a block in the set.
The Orioles lost their touch in the second set, committing 11 errors against six kills. Notre Dame scored three straight points after a 2-2 tie and led the rest of the way.
And they played from ahead for the majority of the rest of the match.
Springville got down 12-3 in Game 3, got within 23-20 before Notre Dame closed it out.
In the fourth set, an 11-2 surge put the Nikes in front 20-12. The Orioles got as close as four, but that was the end of the road.
At 20-13, Springville setter Nia Howard suffered a non-contact bloody nose.
“I think it was just the dry air in here,” she said. “Of course it happens at a bad time.
“I’m very, very happy with our season. Obviously, I wanted to get this win. But we’ve never gotten this far before. This team is so amazing.”
Howard and Wilson made the all-tournament team, along with Deery and the Bentz twins (Josie and Jenna) of Notre Dame, along with Natalie Randolph of Fort Madison Holy Trinity and Jadyn Rausch of North Tama.
Wilson finished with 14 kills. Howard posted 35 assists.
Deery’s 18 kills paced Notre Dame.