CEDAR RAPIDS -- As wins continue to add up, Janesville's volleyball team is making sure one of its major goals isn't completely performance based.

Class 1A's top-ranked Wildcats enjoyed themselves Wednesday night, once again embracing the transition from small-school gymnasiums to the spacious U.S. Cellular Center during the program's eighth consecutive trip to state.

That relaxed approach led to a team that was firing on all cylinders during an opening-round sweep of East Mills, 25-10, 25-12, 25-19.

Junior outside hitter Bree Thompson set the tone for her team with seven kills, three aces and one block during the opening set before finishing the match with 17 kills, nine digs, four aces and three blocks. The third-year starter has capped each of her previous two volleyball seasons with a state championship.

"Our biggest goal this season was to have fun no matter what we do," Thompson said. "We have the No. 1 seeding so everyone is going to play really hard against us. We just need to play our game and then have fun along with it."

Outside hitter Kennedy Meister added 13 kills and her younger sister, sophomore Julia Meister, tallied seven from the middle position in her state debut. Setter Alisa Bengen recorded 35 assists and Lily Liekweg provided a solid foundation out of the back row with eight digs.

Janesville (35-7) finished with a .348 hitting efficiency, while East Mills was held to a negative clip of 17 kills and 19 attack errors.

"I thought Liekweg passed well," Janesville coach Shelly Sorensen said of her libero. "That always goes unnoticed with everyone else, but that's how we run our offense. (Kennedy) Meister came through with some huge plays defensively. East Mills served tough at us and we were able to pass serve well enough.

"Even when we were out of system we were still able to find our hitters and create some offense which is huge in limiting the number of free balls we send over."

Janesville continues its championship quest 6 p.m. Thursday against either Starmont or Holy Trinity Catholic.

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Sports Reporter

Sports reporter for The Courier

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