Thanks to a three-set sweep over visiting Southeast Polk, the Waukee High School volleyball team captured their second straight state tournament appearance Monday night at Waukee Field House.
“The girls really put their nose to the grindstone and got it done which wasn’t easy with the number of three or four set runs Southeast Polk threw at us tonight,” began second-year head coach Danielle Lynch. “These girls did a great job of being as consistent as they could be and didn’t let things get away from them.”
This is the first time in over three years that the Warriors have clinched a state tournament berth inside Waukee Field House and the fan support really added to the winning atmosphere.
“We have the best fans and the best student section around,” said coach Lynch. “It really energized our girls tonight and we really appreciate all the support we’ve been given not just tonight but the whole season.”
The Warriors would face less than six deficits the entire match, two of which began sets one and two. Aside from the very first point of the first set, Waukee never trailed. From a 4-4 tie early on, the Warriors went on a 9-5 run, a 6-2 run, and a 6-0 run to run away with set one late 25-18. Once again, set two provided an early disadvantage for Waukee, falling behind 1-0 to the Rams. From a 3-3 tie came a 6-3 lead, a 12-7 lead and eventually ballooned into their biggest lead of the set 21-11. Set two was their easiest set as with a blink of an eye, Waukee was up two sets to none.
What ended up being the final set for Waukee had the most challenge but started rather smoothly with a 7-4 lead early on. Then adversity hit and a 10-6 run by the visiting Rams gave the Warriors their last deficit of the game at 14-13. A 4-0 run followed by a 7-0 run quickly pulled the set back in Waukee’s favor at 21-14. Waukee would withstand a four-point run by Southeast Polk to end up claiming the regional crown and punching their repeat ticket to state 25-20.
It was quite an impressive performance overall, operating in dominant fashion despite taking on an opponent as talented as Southeast Polk. There were a lot of things that the Warriors did well with including the assists department where first-year starter Lily Becker dominated the action. Becker dropped 24 assists on the night, giving her 872 total assists for the season so far. Becker was also strong in the serving game as well contributing to over 15 percent of the successful serves on the night. In total, the senior went 10-of-11 from the serving line and also added in two of the teams seven aces on the night.
Ultimately it was a performance worth remembering but an outcome that Becker and her team saw coming from day one.
“With the talent and how well we gell together as a team, making it to state was always part of the plan and we did it here tonight,” said Becker. “We knew that if we went out there and played our game, we would come out on top and we did.”
That talent sure was on full display especially in the kills department where junior Layanna Green and senior Kate Nelson paced the night with nine kills each, giving them 317 and 306 total kills respectively. The wealth of talent was sure spread around as junior Ella Pedersen led the Warriors in digs with nine on the night while senior Ellie Hemesath paced the team in blocks with three out of the teams’ eight total blocks on the night. Junior Kori Knox led the team with three aces for the contest.
Up next for the Warriors will be their second straight state tournament appearance which will pin them up in a rematch of last years’ state tournament opener against top-ranked Cedar Falls. The 35-11 Warriors will battle the 41-1 Cedar Falls squad beginning on Tuesday, Nov. 12 at noon, held on court one.