NEWTON, Ia. – Urbandale’s Mackenzie Brees not only earned a trip to next week’s state volleyball tournament for herself, she booked one for her father, too.
Brees and her teammates scored the final six points of the match to beat Iowa City High 20-25, 25-18, 25-21, 20-25, 15-10 Tuesday in a Class 5-A regional final between two of last year’s state tournament teams at Newton High School.
Her father, Paul, never misses a match. The Brees family will go to Cedar Rapids for next week’s state tournament. Paul will have to miss work to attend.
“He’ll do it with a smile,” Brees said.
Urbandale’s Emilee Erichsen smacked a match-high 22 kills. Teammate Kyla Inderski, an all-state outside hitter, added 17.
The J-Hawks topped last year’s state runnerup in a match that lasted two hours. Urbandale has been a team eager to rally all season, and that happened again.
Iowa City High (20-14) outscored Urbandale 9-1 at the end of the opening set. Urbandale took the second in a set with eight ties.
The J-Hawks (34-5) took the third set. City High scored the last four points to win the fourth and force a decisive fifth set.
City led 11-9 after scoring six straight points only to see Urbandale rally once more.
Emilee Erichsen smacked two ace serves during the final 6-0 run.
“We’ve never had trouble coming back from behind,” Brees said. “We kind of like to keep it interesting for the crowd.”
Urbandale was one of six CIML schools to qualify. Ankeny, Ankeny Centennial, Johnston, Dowling Catholic and Indianola also are headed to Cedar Rapids.
City High had been aiming for its third consecutive trip to state.
“Coming in, we were definitely the underdog,” City High coach Craig Pitcher said. “It was different for us, we haven’t been in that situation for a while.”
Michaela Nelson smashed 17 kills and had 20 digs. Rylee Price added 12 kills.
Alexa Aldrich-Ingram led the defense with 21 digs. Teammate Ruth Grace compiled 47 assists and four aces.
Urbandale’s Sami Hillmer posted a match-best 23 digs. Teammate Mallary Erbes had 44 assists.
City High overcame injuries and adversity this season.
“It was like a yoyo this year,” Pitcher said. “At the end, we played very well. Our intensity was there, our execution was there.”
Urbandale’s seniors are returning to state for the third time in their careers. The team qualified in 2010 and 2012.
“These guys are the first three-timers,” Urbandale coach Liz Baethke said.
Urbandale’s Celie Kohls and her teammates celebrated Tuesday’s narrow win.
“Iowa City High’s a great team and they played awesome,” Kohls said. “We just pulled through.”
Brees and her dad are getting ready for a road trip.
“He’s supported my entire volleyball career, he’s never missed a game,” Brees said. “He cheered at every game, whether we were winning or losing.”
Other regional finals
Other regional finals
Ankeny Centennial 3, Cedar Falls 1
MARSHALLTOWN, Ia. – The Ankeny Centennial volleyball players are starting a tradition of their own.
On the same night that top-ranked Ankeny advanced to the state tournament for the 12th straight year, No. 3 Centennial also earned a trip to Cedar Rapids in its inaugural season with a 25-22, 22-25, 25-18, 25-19 victory over No. 7 Cedar Falls in a Class 5-A regional final on Tuesday at Marshalltown.
“We just knew that throughout the season we would build and get better as a team, and for most of us this is the first time we’ve ever played together,” said middle hitter Gabby Helmbrecht, one of Centennial’s six seniors. “It’s a great feeling to be able to decorate the gym, put up a banner and have the opportunity to play at state.”
Junior Jaali Winters had 22 kills and 18 digs for the Jaguars (32-8), who have won eight of their last nine matches since losing to Ankeny on Oct. 15. She played on the last two Ankeny teams that reached the state tournament semifinals before moving across town to north-side Centennial following the split into two high schools this fall.
“It feels awesome,” Winters said. “I’m really excited about it.”
Centennial rallied from a 10-7 deficit to win the opening set. Setter McKenna Pierson served two consecutive aces to give the Jaguars a 21-15 lead, then later set up Winters for a kill to close out the set.
Cedar Falls scored the final three points to win the second set, but the Jaguars broke away from a 12-12 tie to win the pivotal third set. Tasha Vipond started a 6-0 run with a kill, then Pierson served the next five points to give her team an 18-12 lead.
Play was stopped briefly during the set while Pierson tried to stop a bloody nose. She did not miss any action, though, and eventually closed out the set when she dumped the ball over the net for a kill.
“I’ve been known for those,” Pierson said of her bloody nose. “I get them a lot during games, but it wasn’t going to keep me out.”
The Jaguars then went on a 7-2 run to close out the fourth set, getting a kill from Kaity Vinzant to end the match. Cedar Falls finishes the season at 31-9.
“We watched a lot of film, and I knew if we played our best and they played their best I still felt like we had the edge,” Centennial coach Jessica Rinehart said. “They’re a great team, but I feel like every single player on our team stepped up, which was awesome.”
Now, the Jaguars can focus on next week’s state tournament at the U.S. Cellular Center. They would like nothing more than to earn a rematch against their crosstown rival.
“It’s always good competition against Ankeny,” Helmbrecht said. “And we want to play the best out there.”
— Dan Holm
Ankeny 3, Sioux City East 0
AMES, Ia. – Megan Ballenger led Ankeny with 12 kills and Moriah Johnson added nine in a 25-14, 251-4, 25-21 sweep. McKenna Parks had four ace serves, and Claire Wandrey had three.
Johnston 3, Valley 0
JOHNSTON, Ia. – Taylor Joens led Johnston with 19 kills. Abby Hallman had 24 assists and 10 digs to help the Dragons to a 25-18, 25-20, 25-20 win.
Dowling 3, C.B. Abraham Lincoln 1
WAUKEE, Ia. – Tessa Mendoza had 52 assists in Dowling’s 29-27, 21-25, 25-22, 25-22 win over Lincoln. Anna Wisnieski contributed 26 digs, while Brooke Reichart had 19 kills.
Dowling returns to state for the second consecutive season despite having just three regulars returning from a season ago.
We played tough defense against a great offensive team,” Dowling coach Mary Beth Wiskus said. “I didn’t see any wavering in confidence.
“Winning that first game was really key for us. It got them to believe that we could do this. The girls are building a good program.”
Indianola 3, Pella 1
CARLISLE, Ia. – Indianola beat Pella 25-14, 22-25, 25-11, 25-18 to advance to the state tournament for the first time since 1999. Junior Nicole Coghlan had 13 kills. Kristina Quijano added 11 kills for the Indians and led with 17 digs.
Waverly-Shell Rock 3, ADM (Adel) 0
WEBSTER CITY, Ia. – Waverly Shell Rock defeated ADM 25-13, 25-21, 25-12 and snapped the Tigers’ four-game winning streak. Senior Torrie Hook led ADM with 279 kills this season.
Carroll Kuemper 3, North Polk 0
PERRY, Ia. – North Polk fell 25-22, 25-13, 25-17 and ended its season with a 24-10 record. Freshman Gracie Harmeyer led the Comets with 589 assists.
Nevada 3, Bondurant-Farrar 0
HUXLEY, Ia. – Bondurant-Farrar finished its season with a 25-23, 25-20, 25-17 loss. Keely Bycroft served up 37 aces for the Bluejays this season.