No. 6 Eddyville-Blakesburg vs. No. 4 Council Bluffs St. Albert (27-4), noon
Both of these teams enter the state tournament riding six-match winning streaks and are unbeaten against Class 2A competition. Eddyville-Blakesburg is making its first appearance at state since 2006 and features setter Paige Shafer, who ranks sixth in the state with 972 assists. Council Bluffs St. Albert is making its third straight state tournament appearance after reaching the semifinals last year. Three of the Saints’ losses this season have come to ranked teams in higher classes.
No. 7 Hinton (26-7) vs. No. 3 Sumner-Fredricksburg (37-3), noon
Hinton returns to state for the first time since 2005 thanks to its current eight-match winning streak. The Blackhawks haven’t lost to a 2A team this season, with five of their six losses to Iowa competition coming to ranked foes. Sumner-Fredricksburg hasn’t lost in more than a month, its last loss coming against Class 3A No. 10 Independence on Oct. 5. The Cougars’ offense runs through freshman setter Becca Pagel, who ranks fifth in the state with 992 assists.
Regina (19-11) vs. No. 1 Dike-New Hartford (42-1), 2 p.m.
Regina is playing its best volleyball at the right time, entering the state tournament on a five-match winning streak. The Regals defeated No. 11 West Branch in the regional finals to reach the state tournament for the first time since 2003. Sophomore Mackenzie Conlon ranks fifth in 2A in digs with 484. Dike-New Hartford has been almost unbeatable over the past three seasons. The Wolverines have won the 2A title each of the last two years and are 131-4 over the past three seasons. Dike-New Hartford features three Division I recruits in juniors Briana Weber (Northern Iowa), Brooke Morgan (Wisconsin) and Rachel Koop (Northern Iowa).
No. 9 Grundy Center (29-8) vs. No. 2 Western Christian (43-2), 2 p.m.
Last year’s Class 1A runner-up, Grundy Center moved up to 2A and reached the state tournament for the fourth straight year by outlasting No. 5 South Central Calhoun in the regional finals. The Spartans’ only loss to 2A competition this season came to top-ranked Dike-New Hartford. Perennial power Western Christian is making its 13th straight state tournament appearance and has played for a state title in eight of the past nine seasons. The Wolfpack features of the most balanced attack in the state with five players with more than 200 kills. Sisters Haley (6-foot-5, senior) and Kaira Moss (6-1, sophomore) have combined for 452 kills and 178 blocks.
* THE FAVORITE: Dike-New Hartford hasn’t lost to an Iowa foe in the past two seasons. The two-time defending state champs went 45-0 last season and their only loss this season came to St. James Academy of Topeka, Kan., which has won five straight Kansas state titles. The Wolverines are ranked in the top-10 nationally by several outlets.
* THE FOCUS: Can anyone keep up with Dike-New Hartford? The Wolverines are seeking their third straight state title and are 87-0 against Iowa competition the past two seasons.
* Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont: Karlie Taylor, 6-0, so. Ranks in the top six in Class 2A in both kills (475, second) and ace serves 72 (sixth). Her 475 kills are eighth best in the state.
Council Bluffs St. Albert: Kylie Ferguson, 5-10, sr. Ranks seventh in 2A with 391 kills.
Regina: Tori Owens, 5-10, sr. Coming off a career-high 52 kills in the regional final. Ranks fifth in 2A and 12th in the state with 454 kills.
Dike-New Hartford: Brooke Morgan, 6-5, jr. Wisconsin commit has 325 kills and her hitting percentage of .516 is second in the state. Also has 98 blocks.
Hinton: Kasey Reuter, 6-1, sr. Second team all-state pick last year has 319 kills and 56 blocks.
Sumner-Fredericksburg: Kally Frisch, sr. Leads 2A and is sixth in the state with 481 kills.
Grundy Center: Riley Sents, 5-5, jr. Leads the state with 769 digs.
Western Christian: Jamie Gesink, 5-8, jr. Returning first team all-state pick ranks fifth in 2A with 936 assists and also has 54 ace serves and 49 blocks.
THE FORECAST: All signs point toward another championship showdown between Dike-New Hartford and Western Christian. The two powerhouses have met in the 2A finals four times over the past six seasons and accounted for five of the past six 2A championships. Dike-New Hartford has defeated Western Christian in the finals each of the past two seasons including a five set win last year.
FAST FACT: Five of the eight teams in the Class 2A field enter the tournament undefeated against Class 2A competition. Eddyville-Blakesburg, Council Bluffs St. Albert, Dike-New Hartford, Hinton and Western Christian are all unbeaten when facing 2A teams.