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WATERLOO — There’s nothing like winning your own volleyball tournament, but it took everything Waterloo Columbus had Saturday.

The strong field of teams at Oppold Gymnasium for the Columbus Invitational included Class 4A’s eighth-ranked Marion and 5A’s 15th-ranked Waterloo West.

After a rough go in pool play, the Sailors were able to stay afloat and entered the championship bracket as the sixth seed. They ran the bracket and defeated Independence in the championship match 25-18, 25-19, bringing a huge smile to head coach Kerry Merrifield’s face.

“This is what we are capable of,” said Merrifield. “All year we have been finding ways to lose those close two- and three-point sets, and today we found the way to win them. It feels really good to win your own tournament.”

The Sailors lost a second-round match to West 22-20, 21-18 and had to face the Wahawks again in the semifinals after taking down Sumner-Fredericksburg in three sets.

Columbus took the first set 25-17, but West stormed back with a 25-21 win to force a third set.

The final showdown never had a lead of more than four points as both teams went at each other point-for-point. Finally, a mis-hit by the Wahawks gave the Sailors a 15-13 victory.

“We had the drive there to beat West,” said sophomore middle hitter Faith Freshwater. “They beat us earlier in the day and we really wanted to play them again. We were so hyped up for that game and we worked so well together as a team to beat them. I think we carried that momentum over to the championship game and we were not going to lose.”

Ironically, Independence duplicated the Sailors’ journey as they were matched up with Marion in the semifinals after losing to the Indians in pool play.

A determined squad of Mustangs forced a third set and claimed the match with a 25-23, 20-25, 15-13 win.

In the finals, Columbus’ Emma Purdy and Freshwater began to dominate at the net as the Sailors finished with a flurry.

“We changed some things up a bit and figured some things out and played some good volleyball late,” said Purdy. “We kept coming back all day and it seems like when we got to that 22nd point we just knew we would win. We are starting to feel good about what we are doing and we are getting confident in where we want to put the ball.”

“We had a couple girls really step up today,” said Merrifield. “I thought Freshwater played a great game and our libero, Reagan Lindsay, just lit it up back there. I mean one minute you are thinking the ball is going to drop then suddenly there is Reagan digging it off the floor. She passed the ball well today and this team really came together.

“We don’t have a lot of superstars, but we have great players that are well conditioned and can play with anyone.”

Waterloo East went through pool play with two set wins, then went through consolation play winning four sets and claiming the consolation championship.

Columbus Invitational

POOL A — Waterloo Columbus def. Waukon 21-7, 18-21, 15-9, Waterloo West def. Starmont 21-17, 21-13, West def. Columbus 22-20, 21-18, Starmont def. Waukon 22-20, 21-16, West def. Waukon 21-13, 21-7, Columbus def. Starmont 21-15, 21-6.

POOL B — Waterloo East def. Don Bosco 19-21, 21-16, 15-6, Marion def. Independence 21-16, 22-20, Marion def. Don Bosco 21-4, 21-10, Independence def. East 21-17, 21-19, Marion def. East 21-19, 21-11, Independence def. Don Bosco 21-17, 21-14.

POOL C — Sumner-Fredericksburg def. BCLUW 17-21, 21-4, 15-3, Vinton-Shellsburg def. North Fayette/Valley 21-19, 21-11, BCLUW def. VS 21-12, 21-19, SF def. NFV 21-11, 21-16, SF def. VS 21-15, 21-18, BCLUW def. NFV 21-18, 21-15.

CONSOLATION BRACKET

Playoff — Don Bosco def. Waukon 21-17.

Semifinals — Don Bosco def. Vinton Shellsburg 21-12, 21-19, Waterloo East def. Starmont 21-18, 21-17.

Championship — East def. Don Bosco 21-16, 21-15.

CHAMPIONSHIP BRACKET

Quarterfinals — Independence def. BCLUW 25-21, 22-25, 15-13, Columbus def. Sumner-Fredericksburg 17-25, 28-26, 15-10.

Semifinals — Columbus def. Waterloo West 25-17, 21-25, 15-13, Independence def. Marion 25-23, 20-25, 15-12.

Championship — Columbus def. Independence 25-18, 25-19.

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