At U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids
Quarterfinals, November 8
No. 1 Cedar Falls (38-3) vs. No. 11 West Des Moines Dowling (27-15), Noon
No. 4 Linn-Mar (33-8) vs. No. 5 Ankeny (37-5) 2 p.m.
No. 8 West High (23-14) vs. No. 2 Ankeny Centennial (32-3), Noon
No. 3 West Des Moines Valley (40-4) vs. No. 7 Dubuque Hempstead (23-10), 2 p.m.
Semifinals, November 10
Cedar Falls/West Des Moines Dowling winner vs. Linn-Mar/Ankeny winner, 10 a.m.
West High/Ankeny Centennial winner vs. West Des Moines Valley/Dubuque Hempstead winner, 10 a.m.
Championship, November 11
Semifinal winners, 10 a.m.
No. 1 Cedar Falls (38-3): The Top-ranked Tigers return to the state tournament for the second straight season after a semifinal appearance last year.
Cedar Falls has three players with more than 220 kills, led by junior Taylor Lynch with 310 and feature one of the state’s top setters in junior Tayah Mahi.
The lone loss to a 5A opponent for Cedar Falls came to West High at the Mississippi Valley Conference tournament. The other two losses for the Tigers came to Class 2A second-ranked Dike-New Hartford.
No. 11 West Des Moines Dowling (27-15): West Des Moines Dowling won at sixth-ranked Cedar Rapids Kennedy in the regional finals to return to the state tournament for the fifth consecutive season.
The 15 losses for Dowling are the second most of any state qualifier in any class and most in 5A with eight of those losses coming against 5A qualifiers.
Dowling hasn’t won a state tournament match since its runner-up finish in 2013, falling in the quarterfinals the past two seasons.
Junior Sally Gaul has a team-high 254 kills to lead three players with more than 225 kills.
No. 4 Linn-Mar (33-8): The Lions won the MVC Mississippi Division title and added a MVC tournament crown before sweeping Pleasant Valley in the regional final to reach the state tournament for the first time since 2010.
Linn-Mar has won nine straight entering state tournament play, dropping just two sets during its current winning streak.
The Lions have just one loss to 5A competition this season, to No. 14 Cedar Rapids Prairie, and are a perfect 3-0 against 5A state qualifiers.
No. 5 Ankeny (37-5): The Hawkettes are back at the state tournament after having a string of 13 consecutive appearances snapped last year.
Three of the five losses for Ankeny this season have come to West Des Moines Valley and a 3-0 sweep at the hands of the Tigers in the regular season finale was the only loss for the Hawkettes since Sept. 17.
Ankeny has a trio of seniors with more than 220 kills led by Alyssa Ballenger with 563. Freshman Isabelle Vacek leads the 5A field with 107 blocks.
No. 8 West High (23-14): West High is making its third straight state tournament appearance but hasn’t won a state tournament match since the 2011 title game.
The 14 losses for West High are the second most among qualifiers behind 15-loss Dowling with half of those losses coming to teams in the 5A field.
West High has a list of impressive wins with a victory over top-ranked Cedar Falls and a pair of wins over Dowling.
Emma Norris (246), Colby Green (208), Ali Tauchen (197) and Emily Halverson (186) all have more than 185 kills for a balanced West High attack directed by senior setter Maddie Fay.
No. 2 Ankeny Centennial (32-3): The two-time defending state champion, Ankeny Centennial returns to the state tournament for the fourth straight season seeking to become the first team to win three consecutive titles in Iowa’s largest class since Dubuque Wahlert in 2002.
Ankeny Centennial has wins over three teams that enter the state tournament ranked atop their class in 2A top-ranked Western Christian, 3A No. 1 Union and 4A No. 1 Pella.
The top two hitters for the Jaguars are underclassmen in sophomore Kenna Sauer (288 kills) and freshman Devyn Robinson (125 kills).
No. 3 West Des Moines Valley (40-4): West Des Moines Valley used 35 kills from senior Hannah Lockin to rally for a five-set win over Cedar Rapids Prairie in the regional final to reach the state tournament for the first time since 2009.
Lockin leads the Tigers with 496 kills while sophomore Madi Kubik has 418 to make Valley the only 5A team with two players with more than 400 kills.
The Tigers are 4-2 against teams in the 5A field with losses to Dubuque Hempstead and Ankeny Centennial.
No. 7 Dubuque Hempstead (23-10): The Mustangs fended off No. 10 City High in five sets in the regional final to reach the state tournament for the second straight season and fifth time in the past six seasons.
Dubuque Hempstead upset West Des Moines Dowling in the quarterfinals last year before falling to eventual champion Ankeny Centennial in the semis.
The Mustangs are 3-2 against teams in the 5A field including a win over No. 3 West Des Moines Valley on August 27.
Freshman Aliyah Carter leads Hempstead with 240 kills while senior Morgan Kluesner has 227 kills for the Mustangs.
Take your pick in a field that is as balanced as any in recent 5A history.
Winners of six straight state tournament matches and each of the last two 5A titles, Ankeny Centennial will wear the favorite tag by top-ranked Cedar Falls and No. 3 West Des Moines Valley will likely have their say in the matter.
West High isn’t a favorite but isn’t an easy opener for Centennial after pushing the Jaguars in the only regular season meeting between the two teams.
It’s a MVC vs. CIML showdown in Cedar Rapids.
Each of the quarterfinals pits a CIML team against a MVC squad with the two powerful conferences making up the entire 5A field.
The CIML has had the upper hand of late with Ankeny Centennial winning back-to-back state titles.
After having one qualifier in 2013 and two in 2014 the MVC has made up half the 5A field each of the past two seasons.
Still the conference hasn’t had a team in the title game since West High defeated City High in an all-MVC final in 2011.
Rematches abound in the opening round with three of four quarterfinal matches repeats of regular season meetings.
Of the four opening round matchups, only Ankeny and Linn-Mar failed to face off during the regular season.
Cedar Falls won its regular season meeting with West Des Moines Dowling, Ankeny Centennial edged West High and Dubuque Hempstead defeated West Des Moines Valley.
You can throw the regular season meetings out this week in what appears to be an evenly matched 5A Field.
Cedar Falls: Tayah Mahi, 5-10, Jr. A first team all-state pick and Northern Iowa commit, Mahi ranks second in 5A with 983 assists averaging 10.35 per set.
West Des Moines Dowling: Sally Gaul, 6-0, Sr. Gaul leads a balanced Dowling attack with 254 kills and ranks second on the team with 50 blocks.
Linn-Mar: Megan Renner, 6-1, Soph. Renner does a little bit of everything for the Lions ranking second in the team with 211 kills and 422 assists and has a team-high 80 blocks.
Ankeny: Alyssa Ballenger, 5-11, Sr., The most productive hitter in the state the past two seasons, Ballenger ranks second in Class 5A with 563 kills this season after collecting 538 a year ago to push her career total over 1,500.
West High: Emma Norris, 5-9, Sr. Western Illinois recruit leads West High with 246 kills and is third on the team with 227 digs.
Ankeny Centennial: Kylee Macke, 5-7, Sr., Honorable mention all-state pick last year leads the Jaguars with 377 digs from her libero spot.
West Des Moines Valley Hannah: Hannah Lockin, 6-0, Sr. The Baylor recruit and first team all-stater ranks fifth in Class 5A with 496 kills.
Dubuque Hempstead: Hope Splinter, 5-6, Sr., Ranks third in 5A with 498 digs, averaging 5.79 digs per set from her libero spot.