Your Prep Sports
CORALVILLE – Five teams celebrated state titles on Thursday at Xtream Arena in Coralville.
Perhaps no other team outside of those five had a better or more impressive week at the state volleyball tournament than Clear Creek Amana.
The eighth-ranked Clippers won back-to-back five-set matches of top-three ranked opponents Marion and North Scott to reach the state title match for the first time in program history.
Clear Creek Amana pushed top-ranked Cedar Rapids Xavier to the limit for three sets in the Class 4A title match before falling in four sets.
The most exciting part about the breakthrough week for the Clippers is what lies ahead.
Clear Creek Amana played just one senior during its state tournament run and brings back a talented group of juniors led by 4A all-tournament teams Bliss Beck and Meg Berkland.
“We hope this is going to be the springboard for other seasons they are going to have so basketball, softball and everything else,” Clear Creek Amana head coach Jackie Clubb said. “Next year we are going to hopefully use this as a springboard as well.”
The state tournament success completed a breakthrough season for Clear Creek Amana that started with three consecutive losses.
Clear Creek Amana was swept by Mount Vernon, Solon and West Liberty in its first three matches in August.
After the 0-3 start Clear Creek Amana went 34-8 with seven of those loses to state tournament teams.
The Clippers avenged their final two regular season losses, sweeps at the hands of Marion and North Scott, in their first two state tournament matches.
“A big thing that I learned over the years is these girls are going to respond to the feeback you give them,” Clubb said. “Starting 0-3 was a harsh reality of some of them but they took the feedback and applied it and I am super pleased with how they were able to turn it around.”
Now Clear Creek Amana can look forward to a bright future.
Beck is already a star.
The 6-foot-2 junior had 44 kills and 20 blocks at the state tournament and will return to lead the Clear Creek Amana attack next season after finishing with 399 kills on .411 hitting and 153 blocks.
One of the top backrow players in the state Berkland had 105 digs at the state tournament and finished her junior season with 540 digs.
The top four hitters for CCA all return next year with freshman Averie Lower (222 kills) and juniors Sam Schrage (165 kills) and Addison Gisleson (158 kills) joining Beck.
Setters Emily Henderson (513 assists) and Kenadi Wood (436 assists) also return.
“We only have one senior in the lineup and we are bringing everyone else back,” Berkland said. “Mainly our top hitters are back so hopefully we can build on this.”
First Time Champs: With its four-set win over defending champion Pleasant Valley in the 5A title match Liberty High claimed its first state title in its fourth state tournament appearance.
The win was the first team title in school history for Liberty High which was one of three first-time champions crowned on Thursday.
Ankeny Christian claimed the 1A title for its first title in its first state tournament appearance and Davenport Assumption swept Sioux Center in a 3A title matchup of first-time finalists.
Western Rules Again in 2A: Two of the best programs in state history put an absolute show in the 2A final.
Western Christian rallied from a 14-11 deficit in the fifth set to down top-ranked and two-time defending 2A champion Dike New-Hartford 25-21, 19-25, 25-21, 13-25, 16-14 in an absolute classic between the two perennial powers.
The title was the 18th for Western Christian, the second most in state history in the state-record 23rd consecutive state tournament appearance for the Wolfpack.
It was the state-leading 13th title for Western Christian coach Tammi Veerbeek and completed a 43-5 season for the Wolfpack that featured a spotless 33-0 mark against Iowa competition.
It was the 13th consecutive season and 20th time in the last 22 years that either Western Christian or Dike New-Hartford won the 2A title.
The last team other than those two to win a 2A title – Mount Vernon in 2009.
Xavier Adds Another: In a championship field filled with first-time winners Cedar Rapids Xavier continued its impressive run in Class 4A.
Making its seventh consecutive appearance under head coach Austin Filer the Saints claimed their second 4A crown in three seasons with the win over Clear Creek Amana.
Filer, who was in his final season leading the Xavier program, led the Saints to a 214-45 record the past seven seasons.
“This is my last year with the program and we wanted to have one final dance and see how far we could push it and it was important to me because it was important to (our seniors),” Filer said. “They wanted to end with a state championship, that was their goal at the beginning of the year and for them to invest everything and it got really, really tough at times today and they still stayed true to it.”