In a 16-team field loaded with ranked volleyball squads and Class 5-A mainstays, it took a 2-A school from northwest Iowa to show off true depth.
Western Christian of Hull won Saturday’s Urbandale Invitational after six definitive victories.
The second-ranked Wolfpack was the state runner-up in 2-A a season ago, and their talent allows them to keep tacking on difficult tournaments across the state.
“We want to play against the biggest and best, and that just prepares us for down the road,” Western Christian coach Tammi Veerbeek said. “That’s why we travel four hours to play these teams, because we expect to play fast-paced against bigger, stronger girls. We look forward to that challenge.”
The only school in Urbandale with a smaller enrollment than the Wolfpack was Class 1-A No. 2 Fort Madison Holy Trinity. Western Christian’s length and athleticism overwhelmed Cedar Falls in the final, and CIML teams Ames and Marshalltown before that.
From 6-foot-6 junior Haley Moss at net, to basketball and track all-stater Brooke Wolterstorff, Western Christian’s bench makes schools with 1,000 more students envious.
“To get out of our area and play the bigger schools from central Iowa keeps us fresh,” Veerbeek said. “Western Christian has great tradition behind it. We graduate great players, but we have a good feeder system and when you’ve had the success we’ve had, the desire from the little girls is there.”
Cedar Falls was in a pair of three-set matches before taking on the energetic Wolfpack, who won 25-21, 25-17.
Cedar Falls, ranked No. 9 in Class 5-A, have made a habit of challenging other top teams at invites this season.
“Every year I tell myself I’m going to change our schedule, because we end up playing the best teams in the state,” Cedar Falls coach Matt Flaherty said. “But obviously getting to a championship against a group like Western Christian will make us better.”
Cedar Falls was locked in a well-played and tense semifinal with host Urbandale. The fifth-ranked J-Hawks (20-3) relied on hard-hitting junior Kyla Inderski, but fell to Cedar Falls for the second time this season 26-24, 19-25, 15-12.
“With the postseason fast approaching, you never know what kind of team you’re going to run into, so you’re hoping you’re conditioned for this type of thing,” Flaherty said.
Valley won the tournament’s consolation bracket, its only losses coming against the smallest schools in the tournament.
Beating the largest school in the state in two efficient sets means Western Christian won’t be creeping up on anyone, but Veerbeek just wants her talented squad to carry its strong play into the state tournament.
“We are very deep and if we can pass well and use our hitters, we’re pretty tough to stop,” Veerbeek said.
Valley beat Sioux City North 18-25, 25-20, 15-6 in the consolation final. Western Christian beat Ames 25-6, 25-13 in a semifinal.
Results, Sports Roundup