116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
TIFFIN — Take first and ask questions later.
Benton Community’s aggressive philosophy helped the Bobcats close out points and sets they were unable to do in the previous meetings with Clear Creek Amana.
Class 4A 14th-ranked Benton avenged regular-season losses, sweeping the No. 11 Clippers, 25-19, 27-25, 25-23, in the Region 5 semifinal Thursday night at Clear Creek Amana.
“We finished,” Benton Coach Mike Embretson said. “We hit some shots when we needed to do where before when we saw them earlier in the year we ended up a little soft, got a little passive. We didn’t do that tonight. We stayed aggressive and that was the key.”
The close was indicative of the entire match. The Clippers (27-12) looked for their breakthrough moment, tying the set, 23-23, but Benton was there to shut the door. Piper Nelson posted consecutive kills to end it.
“I’m glad we got a sweep,” Benton senior Alyssa Tegeler said. “I’m really proud of Piper for getting that last kill. It was a good one. I’m excited to make it forward and I hope we can make it to state.”
Tegeler led the Bobcats with 14 kills and four blocks, including one of each late in the third. Grace Embretson added 11 kills and team-highs with 30 assists and 16 digs. Addison Phillips had eight kills, two blocks and 13 digs.
“They fought hard,” the elder Embretson said. “They played as a team. We did our passes and stressed where we needed to and that was a big success for us because we knew CCA was a good team.
“You knew they were going to get hits coming after you, so we positioned ourselves in the right spot and kids got it up and did what they were asked.”
Early leads and strong finishes propelled the Bobcats. They jumped to 5-2 and 10-6 leads in the first. The Clippers fought back to tie it, 16-16, but Benton claimed nine out of the last 12 points to cap the first.
In the second, Benton scored the first six points only for CCA to post a four-point run for a 22-20 lead. A Tegeler block and ace for consecutive points tied it, 22-22. The teams exchanged points until Benton scored three straight, including two off CCA spikes that went long, to claim the set.
The Bobcats recorded the first four points in the final set. Again, the Clippers rebounded, tying the set at 19, 20 and 23. Benton turned them away again and this time it was to advance to the regional final.
“I think it was just keeping a good, positive attitude,” Tegeler said. “We never let them coming back get in our heads and we continued to try our best. We came back and won it. I think it worked.”
Benton (25-14) will face fifth-ranked Marion in the regional final Tuesday at Marion, beginning at 7 p.m. The Wolves swept them in three regular-season matches this year.
“This will be the third time we’ve faced them this year,” said Embretson. “It’s going to be a good fight. Marion is strong all across the front, all the way around. They run a quick offense as well, so we have to be on our guard and ready to go and be keyed in where we have to make our spots.”