Your Prep Sports
NORTH LIBERTY – Every team that has played through the pandemic this fall has faced challenges.
Liberty High certainly faced its own set of unique circumstances during a regular season in which it went three weeks without competition and then crammed 20 matches into 22 days.
The Lightning hope the payoff for a challenging regular season comes in form of a memorable postseason run.
“I feel so much more prepared this year just with everything that we’ve seen this season, everything we’ve been through,” Liberty High senior libero Addie Schmierer said. “I think it’s a really good thing that we were able to play so many different teams and see so many different things just because we know nothing will be new.”
Class 5A fifth-ranked Liberty High began reaping the benefits of its regular season experiences in its playoff opener on Thursday.
Liberty High rallied from a seven-point deficit in the second set on its way to a 25-14, 26-24, 25-20 sweep of West High (13-15) in a Region 7 semifinal.
“We knew West was going to cause some problems for us, they beat Hempstead last week, we went and watched them beat City and they got a lot better,” Liberty High coach Randy Dolson said. “It was a really good test for us because we had to overcome adversity more than one time in that match.”
Cassidy Hartman had a match-high 15 kills and Shelby Kimm added 10 kills and three ace blocks as Liberty High (21-2) stretched its winning streak to 13 with its first match since concluding a 20 match in 22 day stretch on Saturday.
Liberty High will host No. 14 Bettendorf (12-6) in the Region 7 title game on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
“We said before the game it felt like forever since we have played because for so long we were playing every other day so it felt like a big break,” Liberty High senior setter Hailey Hested said. “I think it was good for us to recover a little bit but it felt good to be back on the court with fresher legs.”
Liberty High got the sweep on Thursday but the Lightning also got a test from its cross-town rival.
After opening with an impressive 25-14 win in the opening set Liberty High found itself trailing most of the second set.
West High led 14-9 after a Mayowa Dokun ace block and took its biggest lead of the match at 19-12.
“I just knew we had to keep going,” Schmierer said. “In volleyball you never know what to expect it’s so up and down that you just need to keep moving forward and keep going play by play. I was just trying to really carry the energy.”
Kennedy Daugherty and Lil Lilah VanScoyoc had kills during a 4-0 Liberty High spurt that trimmed the lead to 19-16.
West High scored the next three points pushing the lead to 22-16 on a Rylie Baldes kill and a Kearsten Lenth ace serve and forcing a Liberty timeout.
“I just told them we’ve been there,” Dolson said. “That is a big difference sometime is when you don’t play those kind of matches. We had four set points at Cedar Falls. To play those moments and play teams like Valley it was a good year for us that way picking up some tougher teams and giving us a chance to play through adversity win or lose and now we can use that in the tournament.”
Liberty High rattled off five straight points, cutting the lead to 22-21 on a Daugherty kill.
After a Carmen Crabtree made it 23-21 West High the Lightning ripped off the next three points.
Liberty High eventually put set away on a kill and ace serve by Kimm.
“I was really proud of us because I will be the first two admit I had kind of a rocky game and all together we weren’t clicking like we were on Saturday against Xavier,” Hested said. “I was proud that we could fight back and keep going our serve receive was really solid which helped keep us in that one.”
West High led 10-9 in the third set before Hartman took over.
The sophomore pounded eight of her match-high 15 kills in the third set teaming with Kimm to account for 25 of the 41 Liberty High kills.
“Sometimes Shelby and I struggled connecting a little bit but we’ve gotten really close this yearand I continue to go to her even if we struggle a little bit because I know she will get back into it,” Hested said. “Cassidy is always solid out there so I don’t worry about her too much.”
Freshman Melae’ Lacy led West High with eight kills while Baldes finished with six for the Trojans.
Sam Harvey had seven kills for Liberty High and Daugherty finished with six.
“I knew it would be a tough match,” Schmierer said. “they have really good, athletic players and I just knew we’d have to bring everything we had or else they would sneak up on us.”
Liberty High 25 26 25
West High 14 24 20
Liberty High (Kills-aces-blocks)
Addie Schmierer 0-1-0, Lauren Roman 1-0-3, Shelby Kimm 10-1-3, Kennedy Daugherty 6-0-0, Sam Harvey 7-0-1, Cassidy Hartman 15-1-0, Lilah VanScoyoc 2-0-0, Team 41-3-7.
Assists – Hailey Hested 23, Mariah Rollins 9
West High (Kills-aces-blocks)
Emma Stammeyer 2-1-0, Rylie Baldes 6-0-0, Kearsten Lenth 0-1-0, Melae’ Lacy 8-0-1, Mayowa Dokun 1-0-4, Carmen Crabtree 2-0-2, Team 19-2-7.
Assists – Emma Stammeyer 14