CEDAR RAPIDS — The Jefferson J-Hawks are tenacious and skilled. But they aren’t big.
Ankeny Centennial is, along with all those other qualities. Put size along with skill, and that’s a different level in the stratosphere of Iowa high school volleyball.
Class 5A second-ranked Centennial swept through the day, completing it with a 25-16, 25-19 conquest of the No. 4 J-Hawks in the championship match of the Westside Invitational tournament Saturday at Jefferson High School.
“Bigger helps,” Centennial’s Kenna Sauer said. “Jefferson’s a really good team, and it was good to face a team like that leading into the postseason.”
Centennial (35-2) vanquished the J-Hawks (29-5) for the second time this season. Four of Jefferson’s losses have come against the upper crust of 5A — Cedar Falls, Centennial and West Des Moines Valley.
“I still think we can beat anyone on any given day if we come to play,” Jefferson’s Peyton Brokovich said. “Our blocking has gotten better. If we can get our passes up so we can go to all of our hitters, and if we get our tips over their blocks instead of into them, we’ll have a shot.”
If all goes as planned, the J-Hawks will have another shot at an elite opponent — Cedar Falls — next week at the Mississippi Valley Conference tournament.
“This will help a lot,” libero Kaylee Donner said. “This is the most consistent we’ve played. I can’t wait to see what we can do at the MVC.”
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Jefferson breezed through pool play, then won a pair of two-setters (against West Delaware and Linn-Mar) in the first two rounds of bracket action. But Centennial was too big, and too good.
The J-Hawks forged a 17-17 tie in the second set, but a kill and a block by Sauer triggered a three-point run. Then, at 21-19, the Jaguars scored the final four points.
“Sometimes one player kind of carries us, but today was a team win,” Sauer said.
Jefferson played its three bracket matches in succession, without a break.
“It was a hard day,” Brokovich said. “But we gave it our all.”
In the semifinal win over Linn-Mar, Brokovich provided cushion in the first set with back-to-back kills to push the lead to 23-20. In the second set, Jefferson led 13-11 before breaking it open with seven straight points.
Linn-Mar (25-8) suffered an unexpected loss to Dubuque Hempstead in its second pool match, but rebounded with a clutch win over Dike-New Hartford to win its pool, then knocked off 2A No. 1 Grundy Center in the quarterfinals.
“As a whole, the day was great,” Coach Teresa Bair said. “It was pretty inconsistent, but we overcame the odds. When we lost to Hempstead, we could have folded. Grundy Center ... that was a big win for us. But sometimes, we still get in our own heads.”
At C.R. Jefferson
Teams — 1. Ankeny Centennial 3-0, 2. West Delaware 2-1, 3. West Liberty 1-2, C.R. Washington 0-3.
Ankeny Centennial def. C.R. Washington, 21-7, 21-7
Ankeny Centennial def. West Liberty, 21-13, 21-14
Ankeny Centennial def. West Delaware, 21-18, 21-16
West Delaware def. West Liberty, 17-21, 21-16, 16-14
West Delaware def. C.R. Washington, 21-7, 21-9
West Liberty def. C.R. Washington, 21-10, 21-11
Teams — 1. C.R. Jefferson 3-0, 2. Mount Vernon 2-1, 3. Marion 1-2, 4. Tripoli 0-3.
C.R. Jefferson def. Marion, 21-8, 21-10
C.R. Jefferson def. Tripoli, 21-17, 21-5
C.R. Jefferson def. Mount Vernon, 21-9, 21-9
Mount Vernon def. Tripoli, 21-19, 21-16
Mount Vernon def. Marion, 21-10, 21-18
Marion def. Tripoli, 21-14, 21-19
Teams — 1. Linn-Mar 2-1, 2. Dike-New Hartford 2-1, 3. Dubuque Hempstead 2-1, 4. Des Moines Roosevelt 0-3.
Linn-Mar def. Des Moines Roosevelt, 21-17, 21-12
Linn-Mar def. Dike-New Hartford, 21-18, 21-19
Dike-New Hartford def. Dubuque Hempstead, 21-13, 21-13
Dike-New Hartford def. Des Moines Roosevelt, 22-24, 21-13, 15-7
Dubuque Hempstead def. Linn-Mar, 21-16, 12-21, 15-12
Dubuque Hempstead def. Des Moines Roosevelt, 20-22, 21-12, 15-10
Teams — 1. West Des Moines Dowling 3-0, 2. Grundy Center 2-1, 3. C.R. Kennedy 1-2, 4. Iowa City West 0-3.
WDM Dowling def. C.R. Kennedy, 21-13, 21-18
WDM Dowling def. Iowa City West, 23-21, 21-18
WDM Dowling def. Grundy Center, 19-21, 21-12, 15-13
Grundy Center def. Iowa City West, 20-22, 21-12, 15-7
Grundy Center def. C.R. Kennedy, 21-18, 21-16
C.R. Kennedy def. Iowa City West, 21-13, 18-21, 15-12
West Liberty def. Tripoli, 25-22, 19-25, 15-10
C.R. Kennedy def. Des Moines Roosevelt, 25-17, 25-19
Iowa City West def. Dubuque Hempstead, 24-26, 25-14, 18-16
Marion def. C.R. Washington, 25-21, 25-16
West Liberty def. C.R. Kennedy, 25-14, 25-17
Iowa City West def. Marion, 19-25, 25-20, 15-4
Iowa City West def. West Liberty, 25-17, 25-19
Ankeny Centennial def. Mount Vernon, 25-14, 25-15
West Des Moines Dowling def. Dike-New Hartford, 25-17, 20-25, 15-13
Linn-Mar def. Grundy Center, 25-23, 25-12
C.R. Jefferson def. West Delaware, 25-17, 25-19
Ankeny Centennial def. West Des Moines Dowling, 25-13, 25-21
C.R. Jefferson def. Linn-Mar, 25-21, 25-17
Ankeny Centennial def. C.R. Jefferson, 25-16, 25-19
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