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West Delaware takes next step toward state volleyball goal
Hawks sweep Vinton-Shellsburg in Class 3A regional final at Cedar Falls
CEDAR FALLS — West Delaware junior Alivia Schulte doesn’t talk much about the ultimate goal.
She doesn’t have to.
Schulte and her talented teammates are well aware of what’s at stake.
The second-ranked Hawks took another step toward their lofty goal after sweeping Vinton-Shellsburg, 25-14, 25-9, 25-8, in a Class 3A regional volleyball final.
The Hawks certainly looked like a state-title contender Tuesday night at Cedar Falls High School.
“It’s a great feeling to be going back to state — it’s very exciting,” Schulte said. “We’ve worked really hard and stayed focused on each match. We just need to keep pushing and keep progressing.”
Second at state in Class 4A in 2020, West Delaware (40-5) now stands three wins away from its season-long quest to capture a state championship.
West Delaware head coach Brett Mather, who went over the 900-win plateau earlier this fall, is taking another powerful team to state.
The Hawks are seeking their second state title after previously winning in 2015.
“The big thing is we just need to focus on us,” Mather said. “There are going to be some great teams down there at state, but we just have to focus on playing to the best of our ability. We need to live in the moment and stay focused on each point.”
A scrappy Vinton-Shellsburg came out strong, surging to an early 5-2 lead. But West Delaware took control from there with its quick-tempo attack en route to sweeping the match.
The Vikings finished 19-18 overall.
West Delaware earned a fourth consecutive trip to Cedar Rapids by defeating its longtime Wamac Conference rival for the fourth time this season.
The athletic, 5-foot-7 Schulte was all over the court, collecting a match-high 15 kills. Teammates Brooke Krogmann, Allie Demmer, Kayla Felton and Jaci Bries also were effective with dominant play at the net.
“This team has a lot of weapons,” Schulte said. “Everyone contributes and plays well together. We have great chemistry.”
Superb senior Carlee Smith delivered with an array of excellent sets and tips. She also leapt to execute a booming spike midway through the second set.
Smith converted on a nifty quick set that Bries drilled to close the second set.
“We have so many people who can step up and make big plays,” Smith said. “Our opponents can’t just focus on stopping one player. We have so many players who can deliver.”
Schulte delivered the play of the night, elevating to smash a spike that caromed off a defender, sailed high into the air and disappeared into the rafters.
“I’ve never seen anything like that,” Smith of her teammate’s spike. “That was pretty awesome. Alivia is such a talented player in every aspect of the game. She’s very competitive, she’s very humble and we love having her on our team.”
Brynn Patterson was superb for the Vikings with strong play at the net. She finished with eight kills and a pair of big early blocks.
Vinton-Shellsburg had two impressive postseason wins, downing Union Community and New Hampton to reach the regional final.
For West Delaware, the focus now turns to making a run at state.
“We’re looking forward to having another opportunity to go back there,” Schulte said. “We want to finish what we started last year.”