Prep Volleyball

16 volleyball teams at Westside Invitational, and 10 of them are ranked

Whoever navigates 6-match grind to the title will have earned it

Cedar Rapids Jefferson players celebrate after their win at Cedar Rapids Kennedy on Aug. 28. Jefferson hosts the Westside Invitational — which features 10 ranked teams — on Saturday. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Cedar Rapids Jefferson players celebrate after their win at Cedar Rapids Kennedy on Aug. 28. Jefferson hosts the Westside Invitational — which features 10 ranked teams — on Saturday. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

Saturday tournaments are a grind. And it’s even more grueling when you can’t escape excellence on the other side of the net.

“It’s such a long day,” Cedar Rapids Jefferson volleyball coach Amy Norton said. “Six matches — six tough matches — it’s tough on your body. And sometimes it’s even more of a mental battle than a physical battle.”

The calendar has flipped, it’s the first week of October, and that means the Westside Invitational is Saturday. Ten of the 16 teams at Jefferson’s annual extravaganza are ranked.

“Even before we get to bracket play ... all of the matches in our pool are going to be tough, no matter what,” Norton said.

Pool play begins at 8:30 a.m., with bracket action starting at 2:30 p.m.

The championship match is scheduled for 5:30.

Class 5A fourth-ranked Jefferson (24-4) joins 5A No. 2 Ankeny Centennial (29-2), 5A No. 5 Linn-Mar (21-6) and 2A No. 1 Grundy Center (34-1) as top seeds in their respective pools.

There are no gimmes in the J-Hawks’ pool, which also consists of Mount Vernon, Tripoli and Marion.

“We have to play well just to get into the Gold Bracket,” Norton said. “Same goes for everybody else.”

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Dusk is approaching on the regular season. Conference tournaments are next week, followed by the postseason.

It’s a fact not lost on Norton. Time is growing short on a senior class that put Jefferson volleyball back on the map.

“We played an all-senior lineup (in a win Tuesday over Waterloo West),” she said. “They played so hard for each other. It was fun to see.”

Winners take all

Two matches Thursday pit divisional co-leaders.

Class 4A ninth-rated West Delaware (24-7) hosts 2A No. 2 Dyersville Beckman (35-2) in a Wamac Conference East Division showdown. Both teams are 5-0 in divisional play.

Beckman suffered its first two losses of the season Saturday, a pair of three-setters to Osage and Jefferson at the Waverly-Shell Rock Invitational.

Also Thursday, Lisbon (19-9, 4-0 Tri-Rivers East) travels to Easton Valley (10-13, 4-0).

Supremacy in the Tri-Rivers West will be determined Tuesday, when Edgewood-Colesburg (19-7, 5-0) visits Starmont (18-6, 5-0) in a 1A top-10 battle.

Regionals released

The Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union released regional pairings Tuesday afternoon.

Regionals open Oct. 16 in Class 1A and Class 2A, Oct. 17 in the other three classes.

Regional finals are Oct. 29 (3A-4A-5A) and Oct. 30 (1A-2A), with winners advancing to the state tournament Nov. 6-9 at the U.S. Cellular Center.

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2018 Iowa high school volleyball regional brackets

l Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

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