It’s always an uphill battle to make it to the Iowa High School state volleyball tournament. For the eighth-seeded Waukee warriors, it was perhaps their toughest battle of the year as they took on top-seeded Cedar Falls.
It was the second straight season where these two teams were paired up in round one. Despite giving Cedar Falls a run for their money, the Warriors were unable to pull away with a win, thus watching their season come to a close with a five-set loss. Just five teams all season long have been able to extend their match-up with Cedar Falls past two or three sets. Of those five, Waukee became one of just two teams in 2019 to hand Cedar Rapids two set losses.
The Warriors didn’t start out the best, losing out late on a back and forth opening set for a 25-22 loss, then just couldn’t get out of their own way, falling 25-10 in set two. The Warriors then turned on the jets and proved they had what it takes, storming back to acquire and maintain a lead throughout set three to take the set 25-21, which cut the Cedar Falls set lead down 2-1. Waukee then tied things up with a late surge in set two, 26-24. The momentum seemed to be all in favor of the Warriors who had swung the game into a situation that Cedar Rapids had rarely seen this season. Unfortunately, the Warriors were unable to pull through late in the decisive set, thus watching their season come to a close with a 3-2 loss.
Cedar Falls still managed to show off their number one ranked talent despite Waukee giving them all they could handle. It certainly was a team effort but the two biggest culprits who hurt the Warriors was the senior pair of Akacia Brown and Alayna Yates, who accounted for 75 percent of Cedar Falls’ kills. Brown gashed the Warriors for 37 digs on the night while Yates chipped in a hefty 23 kills. It seemed like whenever Waukee would find a way to answer those two, fellow Cedar Falls senior Emerson Green found a way to hurt them, posting one of her season-best marks of 56 assists.
Even with that said, the Warriors did go farther than any team was able to get against Cedar Falls all season long. No other team has taken Cedar Falls to five sets in 2019 and the Warriors did that through a lot of good performances. Standout junior Layanna Green stepped up her state tournament performance from last year, tacking on seven more kills and totaling 15 total kills Tuesday afternoon. Green also had just as big of a hand defensively as offensively, leading all blockers across both teams with six total blocks for the contest. Senior Lily Becker had a strong outing as well, totaling 34 assists for the game while also pacing the team in digs with 18. Becker now has totaled 906 assists and 309 digs for the season. It was the last hurrah for senior Kate Nelson and she performed strongly with 13 kills and a perfect 15-of-15 from the serving line.
The loss brings an unfortunate end to the 2019 campaign for the Warriors, who wrap up their season with a 35-12 record.