116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Their celebratory sticker-placement game could use some work.
“We got too hyped,” Maddie Harris said. “We couldn’t handle the hype.”
Volleyball, though ... the Western Dubuque Bobcats are masters at that.
No. 1 Western Dubuque overcame a self-proclaimed mid-match “hiccup,” and defeated No. 5 Marion in a four-set Class 4A state-tournament semifinal Wednesday afternoon at the Alliant Energy PowerHouse.
Scores were 25-19, 25-18, 17-25 and 25-15.
“We had that hiccup, we ran our quick offense and we got it back,” senior Meredith Bahl said.
The Bobcats (33-3) won their 25th consecutive match and advance to face No. 3 Waverly-Shell Rock (44-7) at 12:15 Friday afternoon, with the 4A title at stake.
Western Dubuque reached the final in 2019, then fell in the semifinals last year.
“It’s nice to be back,” Libby Lansing said.
» Photo gallery: Western Dubuque vs. Marion in state volleyball tournament
After the match, one of the players was trying to affix Western Dubuque’s sticker to the proper line of a large tournament bracket.
But, Bahl said, “We were so hyped, we were jumping up and down, somebody pushed her and the whole (easel) went down.”
Western Dubuque was dynamite early, hitting .444 (13 kills against one error in 27 swings) in the first set. The Bobcat buzzsaw continued into the second set, scoring 10 straight points for an 11-1 lead, and it looked like a blowout was brewing.
Marion (37-9) is a diehard crew, though, and the Wolves had their own stretch of excellence coming. They outplayed the Bobcats through the rest of the second set, getting as close as 23-18 before a kill by Harris and an ace by Ella Meyer closed it out.
Then, the Wolves rocketed to a 7-2 lead in Game 3 behind the hitting of Michaela Goad. At the end of the third set, Goad had 15 kills and was hitting .636.
“I knew they weren’t blocking me,” Goad said. “The team really helped, they knew where to go, and the sets were amazing.”
The momentum shifted back, though, and once it did, there was nothing Marion could do to stop it.
With the Bobcats up 14-8 in the fourth set, Marion Coach Roxanne Paulsen requested her bench players to switch seats in an attempt to change the mojo.
“We do that sometimes,” she said. “We mix it up, try to do anything.”
A kill and a block by Libby Lansing got the Bobcats to the brink at 23-13, then they got a couple of sideouts to complete the deal.
“You could tell they’ve been in that situation, and what they’re going for,” Paulsen said. “They played a cleaner game today.”
Marion’s Avery Van Hook said, “They run a fast tempo ... middle, outside ... you don’t know where they’re going. They’re a really good team.”
Harris led the Bobcats with 16 kills, and Bahl added 15. Madison Maahs posted 40 assists.
Goad finished with 16 kills for Marion. Van Hook collected 13 kills and 13 assists. Elise Mehaffy posted 23 assists, Natalee Hartman collected 29 digs.