116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — All Brett Mather asks of his West Delaware volleyball team is they “stay in the moment.”
The Hawks had every opportunity to let that moment slip away in Wednesday's Class 3A state semifinal match with Sergeant Bluff-Luton. West Delaware had control of the fourth set, leading 17-10, only to see the Warriors rip off seven straight points to tie the score.
“We miss a serve then all of the sudden they go on a six-point run to tie the match,” Mather said. “The biggest thing about that was that our minds were still in a good spot. If your minds falter at that point, you are looking at a fifth game.”
The No. 2 Hawks (42-5) even briefly lost the lead, but recovered. A kill from Alivia Schulte finished it off, giving West Delaware a 25-23, 25-15, 22-25, 25-23 win and a spot in Thursday's 2 p.m. final opposite No. 4 West Liberty. The Comets outlasted No. 1 Davenport Assumption in five sets to win its semifinal.
Sergeant Bluff-Luton finishes at 31-6.
“We just had a few miscommunications,” Schulte said of the fourth set slide. “I think it was mostly on us, but they really kept the pressure on us and never let up.”
West Delaware was a finalist in Class 4A last season, losing in three sets to Cedar Rapids Xavier. Many of the key performers from that group are back and the experience gained in 2020 showed on Wednesday.
“Last year, we were in the state finals, but that team was so young and inexperienced,” said senior setter Carlee Smith, who finished with 26 assists. “This year we came back knowing what it is all about and we gave it our all.
“The experience we brought back with this team has helped so much. We've been in this environment before. We know what it is like to deal with those nerves and it helps more than anybody might think.”
Mather said his team was going to spend the rest of the night Wednesday enjoying the semifinal win. Their sights will turn to West Liberty early Thursday. The Comets are led by senior Macy Daufeldt, whose 37 kills in the win over Assumption broke her own state 3A record she set in the first-round win over Mount Vernon on Tuesday.
Daufeldt will obviously be the focus for the Hawks, but Mather said his team will remain true to its own identity.
“We'll continue to focus on us,” he said. “They have the best hitter in the state on their team, in my opinion, and obviously we're going to try and put together a good plan. She's going to get her kills, but we have to respond on our side of the net.”
Schulte led the West Delaware offense with 14 kills. Emma Salker paced Sergeant Bluff-Luton with 15 kills.