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Members of the Cedar Falls volleyball team celebrate after beating West Des Moines Valley in the Class 5A championship game of the Iowa High School Volleyball Tournament Nov. 10 at the US Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids.

JOHN SCHULTZ, QUAD-CITY TIMES

Earlier this month, area high school volleyball teams proved the Cedar Valley is the state’s hot spot for volleyball.

State championships were earned by Cedar Falls (5A), Waterloo Columbus (3A), Dike-New Hartford (2A) and Janesville (1A). It’s certainly not the first year of dominance from Northeast Iowa, but this time around the Tigers and the Sailors got to join the party.

And these teams made statements in a big way, each sweeping their opponents in the state finals.

That’s just an incredible showing for the Cedar Valley.

After finishing second a year ago, No. 1 ranked Cedar Falls took down Valley of West Des Moines in the title match. It was the first volleyball championship for the Tigers.

“Just laser-like focus,” Cedar Falls coach Matt Johnson said about his team’s championship run. “It’s ridiculous how in-tune they’ve been since last November.

“Then they got on this stage and played three really great matches.”

Tayah Mahi, Cynthia Wolf and Taylor Lynch were named to the all-tournament team.

Columbus was also in last year’s final, falling to Western Christian, before coming out on top this time around over No. 1 ranked Sioux Center.

“I knew we could do it from the start,” said Sailors’ outside hitter Anna Sinnott. “We worked so hard all season, and I’m just glad it ended the way that it did.”

Sinnott, Olivia Fain and Kate Shannon were named all-tournament players.

Our 2A and 1A winners are familiar names in the championship circle. Dike-New Hartford captured the program’s 13th championship all-time and sixth in the last seven years with a sweep of Western Christian.

“In the third set when we were down, they didn’t panic,” coach Diane Harms said of the team’s effort. “That was a testament to what they’ve done all season long, just staying focused and finding a way to get ourselves back in the game.”

Sydney Petersen, Morgan Weber and Baylee Petersen were named to the all-tournament team.

Janesville, the 1A champion, has now won three consecutive state titles and four of the last five. In sweeping Le Mars Gehlen, the Wildcats have won 21 consecutive sets of state tournament volleyball.

“We did a great job of keeping composure and taking a deep breath when they put the pressure on,” said Janesville coach Shelly Sorensen. “That experience and leadership on the court really paid off again. All year long they’ve shown when they get down or the pressure is on, they find a way to come through.”

Janesville players named to the all-tournament team were Bree Thompson, Alisa Bengen and Kennedy Meister.

What a way to cap the year for area players, coaches and fans. Those who traveled to Cedar Rapids or who watched on television were rewarded with a lot of quality volleyball.

With the University of Northern Iowa producing nationally competitive teams on an annual basis, and with the success of our local prep teams, area volleyball fans are indeed fortunate.

Congratulations to these teams, the players and coaches who have put together another impressive season.

And we can’t let the efforts of Don Bosco of Gilbertville go unnoticed. The Dons won their second consecutive state title in 8-player football Thursday. A proud moment on the big stage.

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