Your Prep Sports
Although it seems like first serves for area teams were just a few weeks ago the volleyball postseason is upon us.
Regional play opens for Classes 1A, 2A and 3A on Monday with Classes 4A and 5A getting into the postseason swing on Tuesday.
Area teams Regina and Solon get the postseason rolling on Monday with City High and West High getting into the act on Tuesday.
The end goal for every team is a spot at the state tournament set for November 2-5 at the US Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids.
Before the Regional action gets rolling full force we take a look at five things to watch with area teams during the postseason.
Liberty High Back for More
Liberty High reached new heights last season making its first state tournament appearance in just its third year as a varsity program.
In its history season Liberty High eclipsed its win total for its first two seasons combined, posting a 34-3 record and earning the second seed at the 5A state tournament.
The season ended in disappoint with an opening-round loss to Pleasant Valley but the Lightning are once again loaded and ready for a postseason push.
Liberty High (20-2) has solidified itself as a legitimate title contender in Class 5A with a late-season push in which the Lightning won eight matches against ranked opponents in the final seven days of the regular season.
The Lightning bring a 12-match winning streak into the postseason after closing the regular season with consecutive wins over defending 5A champion Cedar Falls and 4A top-ranked Cedar Rapids Xavier.
There is no such thing as too many meetings between rivals and two of the very best volleyball rivalries in the area will be renewed in the opening round of the postseason.
Longtime rivals West High and City High and Solon and West Branch will each meet again this season in their playoff openers this week.
Solon (17-18) will get a third shot against defending 3A champion Mount Vernon (27-6) in a Class 3A Region 7 quarterfinal on Monday after the Mustangs won a pair of regular season matches.
Third-ranked Mount Vernon won the annual regular season match in straight sets ion September 8 and added a 21-13, 21-12 win over the Spartans last week at the WAMAC tournament.
Solon has won six of its last eight entering the postseason with its only losses to Mount Vernon and tenth-ranked Independence at the WAMAC tournament.
West High (12-14) and City High (7-10) will meet for the second time this season in a Class 5A, Region 7 opener on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at City High.
The Little Hawks swept West High 25-18, 26-24, 25-22 in the annual Battle for the Spike earlier this month.
Trojans Hitting Their Stride
Speaking of West High the Trojans enter the postseason coming off their best win in the past two seasons.
West High rallied from a two sets to none deficit to down Class 5A eighth-ranked Dubuque Hempstead 23-25, 29-31, 28-26, 25-20, 15-13 in a thrilling regular season finale last Thursday.
The win over the top-10 ranked Mustangs was a high point in a strong end to the season for West High.
The Trojans won five of their final seven matches, a stretch that included a 2-1 performance at the Mississippi Valley Conference postseason quadrangular.
Red-hot Regina Ready to Make a Run?
Regina sat at just 3-7 after a 1-2 performance at the Benton Community tournament on September 19.
It’s been a different looking group of Regals since.
Regina (12-9) has won 10 of its last 12 matches, including nine via sweep, with the lone losses during that stretch coming to Anamosa and 3A ninth-ranked West Liberty.
The Regals will host North Cedar (4-17) in the Region 6 opener on Monday at 7 p.m. with the winner earning a trip to No. 11 Waterloo Columbus (18-15) in the quarterfinals.
Postseason Road Filled with Familiar Foes
Regional brackets are always filled with potential regular season rematches.
That is the nature of volleyball with teams playing upwards of 30 regular season matches.
However, this season area teams face as many potential postseason rematches as ever.
Conference rivals City High and West High and Solon and Mount Vernon each meet in regional openers.
The winner of Tuesday’s quarterfinal between City High and West High would get a rematch with sixth-ranked Liberty High in the Region 7 semifinals on Thursday.
2A No. 14 West Branch (18-12) won’t face a regular season rematch in its Region 8 opener against Danville (2-15) on Tuesday or in the semifinals but would likely get a third match with second-ranked Wilton (29-3) in the title match.
The Beavers won each of the regular season meetings over West Branch in straight sets.