116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Kora Ruff said it was a set she could not remember experiencing during her four-year career.
In a high-stakes match against Ankeny on Wednesday in the Class 5A state volleyball semifinals, the Spartans came through with an epic, 32-30, win, breaking through on their eighth set point.
“We've never played a set that has gone that far,” said Ruff, Pleasant Valley's senior setter. “It just showed a lot of grit from our girls.”
Now, after finishing off a 25-16, 32-30, 15-25, 25-17 win over the Hawkettes, Ruff and her teammates have a chance to bring home the school's first state volleyball title.
No. 2 Pleasant Valley (32-4) will meet No. 4 Cedar Falls at 10 a.m. Thursday in the final. The Tigers advanced with a straight-set win over Johnston in their semifinal.
Ankeny, the defending 5A champ, ends its season at 40-6.
Pleasant Valley's state title dreams in 2020 were dashed in the semifinals by Ankeny. Ruff said that was a huge motivator for the Spartans on Wednesday.
“This was kind of like redemption day for us,” Ruff said. “We lost to Ankeny last year in the semis. We have a lot of girls back who experienced that and it was something we didn't want to experience again.”
» Photo gallery: Pleasant Valley vs. Ankeny in state volleyball tournament
PV's experience showed in the second set. Each time Ankeny applied the pressure, the Spartans had a response, finally closing the deal on a well-placed off-speed shot from Halle Vice, who led PV with 17 kills.
“That second set was just amazing,” said PV Coach Amber Hall. “Every time Ankeny scored, we were able to bounce back and then finally win the set.”
Ankeny showed why it was a championship team, grabbing the third set in convincing fashion. Hall said having so many state tournament veterans was key in closing out the match in the fourth set.
“I'm just so proud of the girls,” she said. “It is so nice to have all these seniors and the leadership they showed and their ability to remain calm and composed in those situations.”
Now, all that is left for this veteran group is to complete its mission on Thursday.
“It would mean everything for us (to win a state title),” said Ruff, who had 49 assists. “It's what we have been working for all season.”
Chloe Kline and Arra Cottrell had 13 kills each for the Spartans. Ava Reynolds led Ankeny with 19. Aowyn Schrader added 15 kills for the Hawkettes.