Teams play only one match a day at the Iowa high school volleyball tournament.
If it were up to Solon setter Taylor Nearad, today’s Class 4A state title match could have been played minutes after the Spartans knocked off Davenport Assumption in the semifinals Thursday.
“I’m really excited. I’m not nervous at all, I’m just ready to go. I want to do it right now,” Nearad said. “I want to play right now.”
Nearad and Solon had to wait a full year for another shot at a state title, so one more day shouldn’t seem too long.
Solon was one set away from a state title a year ago, falling to Charles City in five sets in last year’s state title match.
The Spartans will get a chance to make amends for last year’s near miss when they take on top-ranked Harlan (36-4) at noon at the U.S. Cellular Center.
“It’s exciting to get back to the championship. We’ve wanted this since last year,” Senior Maegan Bruenne said. “Hopefully we can pull out the win this time.”
Solon brings a 16-match winning streak into today’s championship match. The Spartans haven’t lost since a four-set loss to West Delaware on Oct. 10.
“It’s exhilarating to be back in the finals, and we’ve worked hard to get here,” Solon coach Peter Gustin said. “We are just hoping for a different result than last year.”
Today’s title match will be a rematch of last year’s quarterfinal match that Solon won in three sets.
Harlan had never won a match at the state tournament before downing LeMars in the opening round Tuesday.
The Cyclones overcame a two sets to one deficit by winning the final two sets to down defending state champion Charles City in Thursday’s semifinal to advance to today’s title game.
“We lost to them in the first round last year, and they have a solid team with great, great hitters,” Harlan coach Angie Spangenberg said. “They are a good serving team so we are going to have to play our best.”
Harlan is led by one of the top players in the state in junior middle hitter Jess Schaben.
The 6-foot-2 Schaben has committed to play at Iowa State and ranks fourth in the state with 542 kills.
Schaben has 64 kills in two matches at state including 31 in the Cyclones semifinal win over Charles City.
Taylor Frederick, a 6-foot-1 sophomore, is second on the team with 219 kills and has 25 kills in the Cyclones’ two state tournament wins.
“I think we are two totally different teams, I really do,” Spangenberg said of her team and Solon. “I think we are two totally different teams, so it will be an interesting matchup.”
Jordan Runge leads Solon with 31 kills in two state tournament matches while Jordan Smith has 17 kills and Vik Meade has 16.
The Spartans have racked up 19 ace serves in their two wins at state.
Nearad has 69 assists in the two matches at state and senior libero Rylee Smith has 46 digs.
“We need to continue to serve tough and play great defense,” Nearad said. “We need to focus on ourselves and keep doing our jobs.”