By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – As Aubrey Sowers began her prep volleyball career she remembers looking around at her West High classmates and wondering how many would be her teammates in four years.
When Sowers’ high school career ends this week at the Class 5A State Tournament at the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids she will see a lot of those same faces she saw four years earlier.
Sowers is one of nine seniors on the West High roster, a group that has helped the Women of Troy reach the state tournament three straight seasons.
“It means a lot to end our careers at state especially after we’ve gone the last two years with the same group, it means a lot that we get to go there one last time all together,” Sowers said. “We are just kind of a big family so it makes it even more special to do this again together.”
Sowers estimates there were between 40 and 50 girls in the now senior class out for volleyball as freshman.
Inevitably that number has dwindled significantly over the past four years but the core of the class has remained.
The list of nine remaining seniors includes multiple year starters, all-state selection and division I athletes.
That core group has helped West High reach the state tournament in three straight years for just the second time in program history.
“It means a lot to us,” senior Gabi Delsing said. “There are bunch of us and we’ve all played together since we were young and it’s our last season and we are all just really happy to be at state, together.”
All nine seniors on the West High roster have a role.
There are two setters in Sowers and Maddie Fay and a pair of middles in Ali Tauchen and Emily Halverson.
Emma Norris leads the team in kills from her outside hitter spot.
Delsing, Madi Ford, Carson Miller and Gabby Klemme are all backrow specialists.
With multiple players at every spot it would have been easy for a few seniors to walk away.
That wasn’t a thought for any member of the group.
“We spend a lot of time together and we want to play for each other,” Miller said. “It’s important to have the right mindset and I think everyone on our team has that.”
The senior class is full of talent.
Seven players from the group intend to continue their careers in college, four at the division I level.
The key for the group that has helped West High to a 23-14 record and a No. 8 ranking entering Tuesday’s Class 5A quarterfinal against two-time defending state champion Ankeny Centennial (32-3) has nothing to do with talent and everything to do with attitude.
“At practice we have really committed to each other,” Halverson said. “We are playing for each other and I think that’s important.”
The group has been vital in the success for West High.
Seniors have accounted for 66 percent of the kills and 89 percent of the digs for West High this season.
Led by a team-high 682 assists from Fay, seniors have accounted for all but 21 of West High’s assists.
“We are really dedicated to the sport,” Miller said. “We put our talents together and work together.”
The nine seniors have accomplished plenty during their careers at West High.
One thing that has been missing is a state tournament win.
West High hopes to change that this season.
“From the beginning we have always been saying our goal has been to win state and we’ve never really given up,” Klemme said. “We’ve worked really hard in practice and we’ve just had the mindset that if we work hard and we play together as a team we can accomplishment a lot.”