CEDAR RAPIDS — After working their way back into the U.S. Cellular Center, members of a veteran No. 3-ranked Waverly-Shell Rock team found plenty of resistance late Tuesday afternoon in the first round of the Class 4A state volleyball tournament.
Waverly-Shell Rock stumbled out of the gate and was unable to get back on track as No. 6 Council Bluffs Lewis Central secured a straight-set sweep, 25-21, 25-20, 25-16.
It was a stunning finish for a W-SR squad that compiled a 42-6 record with wins over 5A’s No. 2 West Des Moines Valley and 4A’s No. 2 Dubuque Wahlert.
“It really surprised me,” Go-Hawks coach EaVon Woodin said. “We just didn’t have the energy and effort. We started playing tentative, not being aggressive and having confidence.”
Lewis Central (33-5) was led by 6-foot-2 senior Katherine Poore’s 12 kills. Her 6-foot classmate Megan Witte added nine as they helped guide a rotation that starts four sophomores to victory in the program’s fourth consecutive state tournament run.
“They’re all starters from last year,” Lewis Central coach Mike Bond said of his sophomore class. “I think that was huge in understanding what this environment is all about. This year they came up and it was pretty much all business.”
While Lewis Central neutralized Waverly-Shell Rock’s potent attack, many of the Go-Hawks biggest wounds were self-inflicted. Senior Jayme Willemssen tallied 14 kills on .458 hitting, but the rest of her team managed just 16 kills with 20 attack errors.
W-SR also had seven service errors and gave up nine aces.
“They (Lewis Central) are a good team,” Woodin said. “They have good blockers, and two or three good hitters, and their setter does an adequate job. They dug the ball well. Those are things that we usually do well, and they played better defense than we did.”
The Go-Hawks trailed throughout the first set, and tied set two at 14 and 16, but didn’t pull in front.
Willemssen tried to pump some life into her team early in set three when W-SR built an early 5-3 edge. Lewis Central responded with a six-point run, and after she rotated out, added another 6-0 run to pull away.
“It was really exciting to be here and I definitely thought we could go further than we did,” Willemssen said. “It’s just a really devastating feeling.”
The loss ended the prep careers of four senior starters in a W-SR program that returned to state after most recently qualifying in 2015. The Go-Hawks have now made seven state appearances in the past nine years.
“The seniors are great kids, great leaders and they’ve done a lot for the program and worked hard,” Woodin said. “They’ve had a good year and good careers.”