CEDAR RAPIDS -- Osage's volleyball team threw everything it had at top-ranked Carroll Kuemper 1 Thursday afternoon inside the U.S. Cellular Center. It was almost enough.
Behind the blocking and hitting of 6-foot-3 middle Kara Peter, Kuemper overcame a 2-1 set deficit and won the final four points after trailing 13-11 in the fifth. Another successful Osage season ended with a heartbreaking marathon loss, 25-18, 23-25, 21-25, 25-21, 15-13.
"We put our heart on the court and I love these thriller games," Osage's 6-foot sophomore Danielle Johnson said, after leading her team with 18 kills and adding 13 digs. "None of us should be disappointed in how we played because we gave everything out there."
These Class 3A teams have become familiar with this type of drama at the state tournament. Kuemper (45-1) saw a two-set lead evaporate to eventual champion Waterloo Columbus, and Osage (30-7) lost a two-set lead against Sioux Center in the other 2017 semifinal. The Green Devils rallied from down 2-1 to defeat Davenport Assumption on Wednesday, and came just two points shy of winning another marathon battle on this day.
"They got in the rotation they needed and we didn't," Osage coach Andie Olson said, reflecting on the finish. "It just sucks. I feel for our kids. I feel for our seniors. It's part of the game. But our kids battled all the way to the end and they have no regrets."
Kuemper made late runs at Osage throughout this back-and-forth tussle. The Knights won the final seven points of set one, and overcame a 19-17 deficit with a 7-1 run in set four en route to extending the match.
In set five, Osage rallied from down 5-0, drew even at seven and led late. Yet, Peter rotated in from the bench down the stretch and left her imprint on the final result. Her back-to-back kills got the Knights to match point, and she blocked Johnson's first swing out of the timeout to advance her team into Friday's final against Tipton.
Peter finished with 26 kills and set a 3A state tournament record with five solo blocks and seven assists.
While Kuemper had a towering front line that also included 6-1 South Dakota volleyball recruit Aimee Adams, Osage held its own at the net in a match that saw 28 stuff blocks with the Knights maintaining a slim 15-13 edge.
Osage senior middle Sydney Midlang posted 17 kills on .364 hitting, and finished with two solo blocks and three assists. Kaebre Sullivan added three solo blocks and two assists, and Johnson also recorded two stuff blocks.
Kuemper held a narrow .185 to .170 advantage in hitting efficiency as Osage sophomore Ellie Bobinet worked around her team's strong blocking with 18 digs. Senior Kourtney Chambers added 12 digs, while Osage setter Rylie Olson distributed 54 assists in her final high school match.
The Green Devils graduate a class of seven seniors that has been the most successful in school history.
"They definitely have left their mark," Andie Olson said. "They've done something no team in Osage volleyball history has done, and that's to get to the state tournament three times and be in the semifinals twice."