CEDAR RAPIDS — This time, Waterloo Columbus didn’t wait until the last second to complete a comeback.
One day removed from fighting off a match point that kept its title dreams alive, Columbus overcame a 16-8 deficit in the first set and secured the volleyball program’s first state championship with a sweep of Sioux Center Friday afternoon in the Class 3A finals, 25-21, 25-20, 25-21.
Columbus senior outside hitter Anna Sinnott combined a lethal blend of power and finesse as she captained the all-tournament team after a 24-kill, 11-dig masterpiece. Setter Olivia Fain finished with 36 assists and libero Kate Shannon tallied 13 digs to join her teammates on the all-tournament team.
“It’s unbelievable ending my season and career here at Columbus on the championship court,” Sinnott said after recording 85 kills in three state tournament matches. “Teamwork and hard work won that game for us.”
Sioux Center’s balanced team (34-6) finished with five players between nine and five kills, and the Warriors used a 9-0 run on Shayla Post’s serve to gain early control of the match. A Columbus squad (36-8) that was defeated by Western Christian in last year’s 2A final quickly buckled down and recovered.
The Sailors got back into the set with a 7-1 run before taking the lead, 23-20, on a four-point surge capped by back-to-back kills from sophomore Avery Kroll as part of her 11-kill effort.
“We all started to realize just being who we are doesn’t mean we’re going to win,” Columbus coach Hanna Nuss said. “Just because we were here last year doesn’t mean we’re going to pull this one off. I think the girls kind of took a turn and said we’ve got to get moving.”
Added Shannon, “Our serve receive was a little shaky at first, but then we started talking to each other better, calling in and out, and where we wanted to place the ball and it turned out for the good.”
Tied 12-all in set two, Columbus’ Lily Christensen put a ball away at the net and added a kill to spark a 7-1 run as the Sailors pulled away.
Columbus used a 6-0 run to take a 20-15 lead in set three. A string of four Sinnott kills got the Sailors to championship point before Sydney Schultz’s block sealed the victory.
“I knew we could do it from the start,” Sinnott said. “We worked so hard all season and I’m just glad it ended the way that it did.”
Ana Ortiz matched Sinnott with 11 digs and Hanna Clasen chipped in a pair of kills and a block for a Columbus team that starts five seniors in its rotation.
For Fain, this championship run reflects a group of long-time teammates and multi-sport competitors who have made the commitment to find success.
“I think all of us are incredible athletes and we all have such a strong mindset,” Fain said. “Yesterday some of us seniors turned to each other and said, ‘This isn’t our last game. We’re not done.’
“Look where we are now.”
Olivia Fain (Columbus), Jordyn VanMaanen (Sioux Center), Kelsey Havel (Osage), Aimee Adams (Kuemper), Kate Shannon (Columbus), Alexis Toering (Sioux Center). Captain: Anna Sinnott (Columbus).