In Iowa’s new five-class volleyball system, there are bound to be some less-than-desirable state quarterfinal matches, whether it’s one team’s clear superiority or an overall lack of quality play.
The Class 4-A quarterfinal between third-rated Harlan Community and sixth-rated Solon shouldn’t fit into that category.
The teams will meet at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena, and it figures to be an outstanding match. Both return five starters from state-tournament teams, both at least shared a conference title and both feature Division I talent.
“They’re big. They’re a quality team, for sure,” Harlan coach Angie Spangenberg said. “We’re going to have to play our best.”
Six-foot-2 senior Kelsey Cave leads the Spartans. She has signed with Bradley of the Missouri Valley Conference and averages 3.09 kills per set with .457 efficiency, which is second in 4-A among those with more than 100 kills.
Three others average more than two kills per set: 5-10 senior Kelsey Hinrichs (2.76), who will play at Upper Iowa; 5-10 sophomore Jordan Smith (2.72); and 6-0 sophomore Jordan Runge (2.33).
Harlan counters with one of the state’s best hitters in 6-1 sophomore Jess Schaben, who is attracting considerable attention from Division I schools. She ranks second with 4.27 kills per set and owns a .424 kill efficiency.
The Cyclones have several other capable hitters, including 5-11 senior Josie Esser (1.52), 5-8 senior Lauren Larsen (1.33) and 6-0 freshman Taylor Frederick (1.26).
Harlan hasn’t been pushed in a match in more than a month, but Spangenberg feels the strength of her team’s schedule has prepared it well. For example, in addition to sharing the title in a Hawkeye Ten Conference with three state qualifiers, the Cyclones played in the rugged Hull Western Christian tournament on Oct. 6. They lost 16-14 in the third set to 2-A No. 2 Western and also lost a three-set struggle with 3-A No. 2 Sioux City Heelan.
“Going to the Western Christian tourney was good for us, in the sense that we know we’re one of the best teams in the state,” Spangenberg said. “We just have to earn it, every time we step on the floor.”
Spangenberg hopes her team can be part of a strong western Iowa showing in Cedar Rapids.
“We want to go and represent our conference and our part of the state as best we can,” she said.
Contact the writer:
402-444-1055, email@example.com, twitter.com/KWhiteOWH