KNOXVILLE — It had never happened before, it had never happened in any girls sport in Van Buren Community history or the newly named Van Buren County. In fact this Warriors team has set a new standard for all future Warriors to aspire to.
Van Buren is going to the state tournament in volleyball after a 3-0 victory of Nodaway Valley Tuesday in a Class 2A regional final.
Van Buren (32-4) will play Wednesday at the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids at 2 p.m. against Dyersville Beckaman (40-8).
“This is so cool,” Van Buren coach Matt Zietler said. “There is a lot of words for how I feel, but lets go with cool.”
“It doesn’t feel real yet,” senior Salena Sayre said. “We have wanted this for so long. This is my last year and it was a goal that we have set and wanted for so long.”
The Warriors blasted the Wolverines in the first set, taking a 10-4 lead on a Sayre kill after a kill from Grace Davidson and a kill from Taryn Scheuermann. Davidson took over the serve at 19-10 and a serving rotation violation ended the first set at 25-10.
Van Buren led 5-1 and 7-3 in the second set, but called time when the Wolverines got within 10-8.
Three consecutive kills from Sayre helped build the lead back to 17-12 and NV called time. It didn’t help. Ella Jirak’s kill at 21-15 prompted another NV timeout. Blocks from Scheuermann at the 23rd point and set point gave the Warriors a 25-16 win.
A 4-0 lead in the third set called for another Wolverine time out. The Warriors could be seen stomping their feet during the timeout.
“That was just us talking about putting the pedal down,” Zeitler said. “Other times we haven’t done it, so this was the set and the match to do it.”
NV closed to within 12-9 which had Zeitler calling time. Davidson tipped for a point and a 13-9 lead but it was soon tied at 15. Sayre’s kill at 20-17 was the biggest margin after that.
“We have some leaders on this team and they picked us up,” said Sayre, who is one of those leaders. “It helps me to know I am going to power through those blocks compared to hitting around them.”
A Sayre kill then an ace serve made the score 22-19 and after a Davidson kill, it was 23-20.
The Wolverines scored twice and Zeitler called time ahead 23-22.
“I wanted Isabel (Manning) to come over and take that serve receive, but the girls said, ‘no we got it.’ We had to get the ball back and go to Taryn with it,” Zeitler said. “I think it might’ve been nerves. We’re going to have to change something because we have one rotation that is bad. This is not a dictatorship. I let them do their thing. They’re all talented kids.”
NV took a 24-23 lead, its’ first since 4-3 in the opening set. A Scheuermann kill tied it at 24. A Logan Schmitt ace got it to match point and a hitting error sent the Warriors into an instant celebratory huddle in front of the Van Buren student section.
“Selena was on,” Zeitler said. “Her head was never down. Isabell does an outstanding job back there. Our student section was a big help for us.”
“The draw helped us, which was opposite of last year,” Sayre said. “We had to play Durant last year and lost. This year, we are the Durant. The chemistry we have as a team makes all the difference. No matter what teams throw at us, we’re going to play our game and do what we need to do, no matter what.”
“Who would’ve thought that the first team to get to the state tournament was these kids in volleyball when they started high school four years ago,” Zeitler said. “Especially with a with a coach who didn’t know what he was doing. I’ve learned a lot. I kind of know now. I know who to put where anyway.”