A match or two can change everything.
This time last week, Dyersville Beckman and Independence were sailing along, apparently on a collision course to meet in the championship match of the Wamac Conference volleyball tournament.
But West Delaware knocked off Beckman last Thursday to capture the East Division title, then Mount Vernon tripped Independence in the preliminary round of the tournament Monday.
As a result:
“This has turned into one of the biggest toss-up brackets I’ve seen,” Mount Vernon Coach Maggie Willems said.
That showdown between Class 2A second-rated Beckman (37-3) and 4A No. 3 Independence (31-5) is still on. But it’s going to happen as a mere quarterfinal match. The tournament concludes Thursday at Mount Vernon, starting at 4 p.m.
“This is why I love this tournament,” Willems said. “You’ve got to step up and be ready to play, or you’re going to be in trouble.”
In other quarterfinals, 4A No. 9 West Delaware (29-9) meets 3A No. 10 Solon (20-16), 3A No. 3 Center Point-Urbana (25-11) faces Clear Creek Amana (25-12) and 3A No. 12 Mount Vernon (23-14) takes on Benton Community (22-15).
Semifinals are scheduled for 6:30, the championship at 7:15.
As is usually the case, Mount Vernon is peaking as the most critical part of the season approaches.
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“We play better competition on purpose to prepare us for October,” Willems said. “The speed out of our defensive transition has been a huge turning point for us.”
It’s conference-tournament week throughout the area. The Mississippi Valley Conference event will be held Saturday at three sites in Waterloo, with the championship bracket at East High.
The River Valley tournament concludes Thursday at Tipton Middle School. Pools for the Tri-Rivers tournament are Thursday at four sites, with the championship bracket Saturday at Alburnett.
Class 5A No. 1 Cedar Falls (36-0) is a heavy favorite in the MVC; the Tigers carry a 65-match winning streak and are 80-0 in sets this season.
“I think everybody is beatable on any given day,” Cedar Rapids Xavier Coach Austin Filer said. “But if somebody is going to beat that team, they’re going to have to earn it.”
The 4A second-rated Saints (23-6) are one of three teams from the Metro that are potential challengers to the Tigers, joining 5A No. 4 Cedar Rapids Jefferson (30-5) and 5A No. 5 Linn-Mar (25-8).
Jefferson captured the MVC Valley Division title and was the Westside Invitational runner-up Saturday.
Tipton (31-3), the second-ranked team in 3A, is the River Valley favorite. Starmont (1A No. 4, 20-6) is the team to beat in its first year back in the Tri-Rivers.
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Pool A (9 a.m., at Cedar Valley Sports Plex) — Cedar Falls, Dubuque Hempstead, Cedar Rapids Prairie, Waterloo West.
Pool B (9 a.m., at Waterloo East) — Cedar Rapids Jefferson, Iowa City High, Cedar Rapids Kennedy, Waterloo East.
Pool C (9 a.m., at Waterloo West) — Cedar Rapids Xavier, Dubuque Wahlert, Cedar Rapids Washington, Iowa City West.
Pool D (9 a.m., at Waterloo West) — Linn-Mar, Western Dubuque, Iowa City Liberty, Dubuque Senior.
Championship Bracket (at East)
Quarterfinals — 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.
Semifinals — 4 p.m.
Championship — 5 p.m.
Thursday, at Mount Vernon
West Delaware vs. Solon, 5 p.m.
Center Point-Urbana vs. Clear Creek Amana, 4 p.m.
Dyersville Beckman vs. Independence, 4 p.m.
Mount Vernon vs. Benton Community, 5 p.m.
Semifinals — 6:30 p.m.
Championship — 7:15 p.m.
Thursday, at Tipton
Quarterfinals (begin at 5 p.m.)
Tipton vs. West Liberty
Bellevue vs. Camanche
Durant vs. Anamosa
Wilton vs. Monticello
Semifinals — 7 p.m.
Championship — 8 p.m.
Lisbon pool (5 p.m.) — Lisbon, Cedar Valley Christian, Midland
Starmont pool (4 p.m.) — Starmont, Maquoketa Valley, Springville, North Linn
Marquette pool (4 p.m.) — Bellevue Marquette, Easton Valley, Clinton Prince of Peace, Calamus-Wheatland
East Buchanan pool (4 p.m.) — East Buchanan, Edgewood-Colesburg, Alburnett, Central City
Quarterfinals — 10 a.m. and 11 a.m.
Semifinals — 1 p.m.
Championship — 2:15 p.m.
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