By Bret Hayworth | Photos by Matthew Putney
CORALVILLE – Cedar Rapids Xavier made good on the honor after receiving the No. 1 seed in the Iowa Class 4A volleyball state tournament, delivering a victory over the Clear Creek-Amana Clippers on Thursday with 3-1 win.
Xavier head coach Austin Filer is in his seventh year with the Saints, and he has taken a team to state in each of those years. The 2022 team (33-4) won the title in four sets, 25-16, 22-25, 25-23 and 25-12, then the Saints players spilled in a huddle of hugging and crying onto the court with vibrant pink and blue flooring.
In set four, the final two kills were provided by seniors Anika Ivester and Maci Kadlek, who put down the match point ball off a CC-A block.
The Class 4A match was played early Thursday afternoon as the second of five classification championships Thursday at Xtream Arena, after a major move away from the volleyball tournaments having been played in Cedar Rapids for 52 years.
CC-A head coach Jackie Clubb led the team to a program-record 34 wins this season, although the team fell one match short of the victory that would have resulted in a title. The team in Cinderella fashion had beaten the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds in the state tourney this week, but couldn’t knock off the No. 1 seed.
Clear Creek-Amana had gone into the tourney as the Class 3A No. 6 seed, but reached the finals after knocking off higher seeds in Marion and North Scott. Xavier had defeated Bishop Heelan and Western Dubuque.
In set one, Xavier was composed and ran out to quick substantial leads of 7-2 and 11-4. Clear Creek-Amana edged closer, pulling to within 19-16 after a kill by Clippers freshman Averie Lower, but then Xavier ran off six straight points to win the set 25-16. After one set, Kadlek of Xavier led all players with six kills, and Xavier had outhit CC-A in efficiency, with .310 compared to .171.
There was a big switch of momentum in the second set, as CC-A surged early to a 10-4 lead on a kill by senior Silvana Kabolo. After several long rally points, Xavier drew closer, including only being one point back at 21-20 and 23-22, but the Clippers hung on for a 25-22 set win when a Xavier final attack went into the net.
Set three saw the Clippers again fare better early, leading 15-12 and 16-13, before Xavier ran off five straight points to take a 21-16 lead. Xavier led 23-21, but shortly thereafter Bliss Beck put down her 11th kill for CC-A to tie the set at 23. However, Xavier quickly finished the set off with sophomore Libby Fandel kill and then an ace serve, to win 25-23 and stun the Clippers.