CEDAR RAPIDS — The U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids is just one day away from hosting the 2019 state volleyball tournament and that means one more day until Van Buren County makes its state tournament debut in the Class 2A quarterfinals.
Seventh-seeded Van Buren comes into the state tournament with a 32-4 record. The Warriors haven’t lost in over a month, taking their last 11 games, including a five-set win over SEISC rival Cardinal (25-11, 25-11, 21-25, 24-26, 15-3) in the regional quarterfinals, a four-set win over Pella Christian (25-17, 15-25, 25-21, 25-20) in the semifinals and a sweep of Nodaway Valley (25-10, 25-16, 26-24) in the regional final to punch their ticket to state.
Second-seeded Beckman Catholic comes into the game at 40-8. The Trailblazers had lost two of their last three regular season games coming into tournament play, but have been dominating the postseason, sweeping Sumner-Fredricksburg (25-12, 25-14, 25-20), MFL Mar-Mac (25-5, 25-12, 25-12) and Denver (25-13, 25-12, 25-7) to cruise into Cedar Rapids.
Van Buren is led by a three-headed monster up front. The senior trio of Selena Sayre, Grace Davidson and Taryn Scheuermann have over 1,000 kills between them.
A lot of eyes will be on Sayre when the quarterfinal game begins. She is five kills away from 500, at 495, and has been red hot in the postseason, collecting 70 kills between the three regional games, including 30 against Cardinal.
Davidson comes into the state tournament wih 300 kills. Scheuermann has 261 kills and a team-leading 100 blocks.
The senior-led Warriors have a couple of fourth-year players leading the assist category as well. Logan Schmidt has 520 assists on the year and Madison Bartholomew has 438.
Junior libero Isabel Manning will attempt to slow down the Trailblazers in the back row. She leads the Warriors with 589 digs. Davidson has tallied 411 digs for second on the team.
If you want to win in Cedar Rapids, you’ll need to have a good day serving. All six Warrior servers are over .900 on serve effeciency with Bartholowmew leading the way at .983. Schmidt has had a hot hand as well, serving .966 with a team-leading 85 aces.
Much like Van Buren, Beckman Catholic has three players over 200 kills. The most dangerous hitter on the team is senior Jada Willis, a Dubuque Hempstead transfer who is flirting with 500 kills herself, at 474 coming into the tournament. She had 33 kills in the regional tournament to lead the Trailblazers.
Sophomore Kiersten Schmitt has 232 kills on the year. Senior Paige McDermott has 204, and junior Kylee Rueber comes in with 84 blocks.
Makayla Koelker will be dishing out helpers to the Trailblazer hitters. She has 491 assists on the year. Schmitt comes in with 490 and sophomore Leah Wessels has 79.
The Trailblazers have relied on a sophomore to dig up most of the opposing team’s kill attempts this season. Olivia Hogan has 398 digs this year, two away from hitting the 400 mark. Willis is second on the team with 253 digs and Ashley Engelken has 216.
The Trailblazers have eight players with at least 100 serves under their belt. Their most consistant server has been Hogan, who sports a .981 serve effeciency. Willis has a .933 serve effeciency and leads the squad with 60 aces.
With the class of 2020 leading the way, Van Buren has the experience to take down the No. 2 seed, being the older of the two teams. Beckman is coming off a state tournament appearance, but only one current player saw the floor. McDermott had 12 kills in two games at the state tourney last season.
It all tips off on Wedensday, November 13. The Warriors and Trailblazers are scheduled for a 2 p.m. start.