A state runner-up pennant in the gym stirs up feelings in Solon’s volleyball team.
Finishing second last year doesn’t seem good enough this time. The Spartans (32-2) beat Indianola 25-11, 21-25, 25-6, 25-18 Tuesday in a Class 4A state quarterfinal at the U.S. Cellular Center to take a step toward a repeat championship appearance.
Solon lost to Charles City in the title match last season. A less-than-welcome pennant is a reminder of the pain of second place.
“Every time we have practice, we see it up in the gym,” Solon libero Rylee Smith said. “We lost in a heartbreaker. When we look at the banner hanging up there, we’re like, ‘How hard can we work this practice?’ “
Jordan Runge pounded 21 kills Tuesday. The team had 12 total blocks and 14 service aces. Smith had seven aces, Jordan Smith added six.
Solon coach Peter Gustin said he wants the players to put last year’s finish, and the pennant, behind them.
“It’s probably a good thing it’s back in the corner,” Gustin said. “It’s not the only motivation. We’re not worried about that flag. We’re more worried about what comes this year.”
Gustin said the players worked hard during the summer. He saw the potential present in the team.
“I told the guys you can be even better than last year,” Gustin said. “You can kind of see the results of that today.”
Solon has won its last 15 matches.
Indianola, which was making its first trip to state since 1999, finished 29-11. Kristina Quijano led her team with 11 kills.
Smith said Solon’s experience at state helped carry the team on Tuesday. The Spartans are making their third consecutive trip to state.
“You just know the feeling,” Smith said. “You know what things are after you’ve been here a couple of times.”