Sports

VBC sweeps Cardinal out of postseason

Warriors roll on to second round matchup against No. 14 West Branch

Van Buren County’s Ella Jirak (3) leaps up for a spike during the Warriors’ three-game sweep of Cardinal in Wednesday night’s Class 2A regional opener. (Andy Krutsinger/The Union)
Van Buren County’s Ella Jirak (3) leaps up for a spike during the Warriors’ three-game sweep of Cardinal in Wednesday night’s Class 2A regional opener. (Andy Krutsinger/The Union)
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ELDON — The magic number was ‘3’ for the Van Buren County volleyball team on Wednesday night. The Warriors secured their third win over rival Cardinal, and they did it in three sets, taking games 25-18, 25-20 and 25-14 to move on in the Class 2A Region 8 tournament.

The first set was back-and-forth the whole way. The game was up in the air until the final few points, and was tied at 14-14 and 15-15. VBC’s Jaelyn Boley knotched a kill to break the tie, giving the Warriors a 16-15 advantage, and that was the last lead chance of the opening set.

The Warriors ended the first set on a 10-3 run. Shea Scott had a couple of big kills in the run, and Isabel Manning ended the set with a block.

VBC scored four of the first five points of the second set, but Cardinal came crawling back to eventually take the lead. The Comets utilized a kill and an ace by Sydney Pickrell to chip away at the VBC lead, and Emma Becker tied the game up at 10-10 with a kill of her own.

The Comets held a short-lived lead when a Trista Benedict kill put Cardinal up 11-10. VBC’s Ella Jirak responded with a kill to tie the game at 11-11. Scott scored an ace to put the Warriors up one, and they never trailed again, eventually winning 25-20.

After two close games, VBC rolled in the third. The Warriors jumped to an 8-3 lead, thanks in part to back-to-back aces from Boley. VBC eventually took an 18-8 lead on a kill by Chelsey Huff and coasted to a third set win. Scott led the way with seven kills in the clincher.

“We knew we had to come and play hard,” said VBC head coach Abby Manning. “Cardinal is always a good game, so we had to give it our all.”

The Warriors moved to 11-14 with the win. The Comets ended their season at 9-17.

Cardinal head coach Katie Orwig said she wished her team wasn’t chasing the lead all night, but that she does see a bright future for the Cardinal volleyball team, who will have to make up for the loss of seven seniors. “In the next few years, there is a ton of potential,” Orwig said. “We have some very good athletes coming through those younger grades, so the future is bright.”

VBC will move on to play No. 14 West Branch in the regional semifinals. The Warriors will be riding a three-game winning streak, which includes sweeps over Class 4A’s Keokuk and formerly-ranked WACO as well as their most recent victory against the Comets. Scott, who was one of a handful of VBC hitters who shined on Wednesday night, says the team’s confidence is at an all time high.

“Now we know we can do it,” Scott said. “We’re playing with so much confidence. We feel like we can get whoever is next.”