CEDAR RAPIDS — Sydney Petersen learned to lead as a freshman, sharing the court with a class of seniors on their quest to win four consecutive state championships.
Friday night, Dike-New Hartford’s libero was among the seniors setting the example.
Dike-New Hartford captured the program’s 13th championship all-time and sixth in the last seven years with a sweep of perennial power Western Christian, 25-15, 25-21, 25-17.
Western Christian (39-7) had won the previous two titles in 2A and owns 16 championships of its own. But Dike-New Hartford (49-3), a 3A champion a year ago, has now defeated the Wolfpack during five of its last six state title victories.
Sydney Petersen led the Wolverines with 20 digs and captained the all-tournament team, while her twin sister, Baylee Petersen, finished with a match-high 16 kills on .424 hitting to go with 10 digs. Amber Rickert added 12 kills.
“My freshman year when we played Western in the finals I had a really good senior class leading me,” Sydney Petersen said. “They helped me to become the leader I am today. Compared to this, we kind of took it upon me and Baylee’s shoulders, and it was our time to help our teammates and lead.
“It’s been nice to be a part of this tradition. Yes, it’s a lot of pressure, but I think it’s for the best because you just work extra hard in practices and go out every game knowing that people are behind you.”
The Petersen sisters were part of a stable Dike-New Hartford back row that allowed the Wolverines to dictate play throughout the first two sets. Western Christian won just three points on serve in set one and didn’t string a pair of points together until after D-NH jumped out to a 14-9 edge in set two.
Sophomore Morgan Weber was also a key cog for the Wolverines as she recorded 11 kills, 13 digs and four block assists to cap a strong week in which she joined the Petersen sisters on the all-tournament team.
A smaller Dike-New Hartford team held a 7-5 blocking advantage as Western’s 6-footers Ashtyn Veerbeek and Jessi De Jager took 68 swings to produce 20 kills.
“Morgan stepped up,” Baylee Petersen said. “They were serving her a lot and I think she did a really good job of passing.”
Tested in set three, Dike-New Hartford’s composure surfaced. Baylee and Sydney Petersen, along with senior setter Madison Hedges, used lengthy services runs to overcome an 11-5 deficit and secure the sweep.
“In the third set when we were down, they didn’t panic,” Dike-New Hartford coach Diane Harms said of her 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.”
The chemistry within this team is what Harms will remember most from a season of dominance.
“They enjoy being around each other,” Harms said. “They’re very complementary of each other, help along the younger players, push and challenge each other.”
Morgan Weber (Dike-New Hartford), Jessi De Jager (Western Christian), Sydney McLaren (St. Albert), Kylie Willis (Grundy Center), Ashtyn Veerbeek (Western Christian), Baylee Petersen (Dike-New Hartford). Captain: Sydney Petersen (Dike-New Hartford).