WAUKEE, Iowa — No set got away from Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln. No big mistake stood out.
Maybe that’s why the Lynx were so frustrated when their volleyball season came to an abrupt end.
Iowa Class 5-A No. 10 Abraham Lincoln gave No. 9 West Des Moines Dowling everything it could handle in a Region 2 final Tuesday night at Waukee High School. But the Maroons were a few points better in a 29-27, 21-25, 25-22, 25-22 victory that punched their ticket to the state tournament for a second straight year and second time in school history.
“They played great, and I told them they have to leave this gym with their heads held high,” Abraham Lincoln first-year coach Brittany Ridenour said. “They had a great season. It just didn’t go our way tonight.”
Dowling (30-8) got double-digit kill totals from five players, led by senior Brooke Reichart’s 16. The school draws No. 1 Ankeny (37-4) in a state quarterfinal match at the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids at 10 a.m. next Tuesday.
Abraham Lincoln (38-12) felt ready to make that trip to eastern Iowa for the fifth time in seven years. Seniors Delaney Bolton and Victoria Krohn sparked the Lynx with 15 and 14 kills, respectively, while solid back-row passing by libero Bailee Gofta and others led to long rallies.
Unfortunately for A.L., too many of those concluded with the ball on its side of the net.
“I think we prepared for this game very well as a team,” Abraham Lincoln junior setter Samantha Bohnet said. “Everyone believed we could do this, and I think that’s why we’re the most disappointed. We thought we disappointed other people as well. But I think the ball just hung on their side a lot more than it did on ours.”
The Missouri River Conference regular-season champs nearly forced a fifth set while leading 22-21 in the fourth following a Bohnet dump kill. But Dowling closed with the final four points — including two kills by Mykal Sadler — before celebrating wildly near midcourt.
Dowling coach Mary Beth Wiskus said the state trip last year was a breakthrough. This one means the Maroons are building a tradition, and doing so against quality competition like the Lynx.
“I think our hitters really came through and were hitting a ton of balls and we stayed true to swinging and swinging,” Wiskus said. “And (A.L.’s) hitters were really painting the lines and hitting angles, and I felt like our diggers did a great job getting the ball up.”
The Lynx almost pulled off an improbable first-set win after falling behind 24-20. Bolton helped serve the Lynx to five straight points, but Dowling responded to knot the score at 25. The teams were also tied at 26 and 27 before consecutive Sadler kills gave the Maroons the early edge.
The second set was all Abraham Lincoln after it built an early 12-5 lead. With both schools stuck at 19 in the pivotal third, Dowling snagged three straight points on a pair of kills and a double block before side-outing its way to the 25-22 win.
Ridenour said coming back and hanging tough after a disappointing opener was yet another example of her squad’s resiliency.
“I’ve said this a million times, but I couldn’t ask for a better group of girls for my first year of coaching at A.L.,” Ridenour said. “I was very blessed, and I hope I taught them some new things they can take with them.”
Bohnet said Ridenour — a former college setter at Baylor — taught her more than she could have imagined when camp began last summer.
“She makes you want it,” Bohnet said. “I think a lot of us were upset when we had to go back there (in the locker room) and face her because we wanted to show her that she did her job. But she’s proud of us.”
CB Abraham Lincoln (38-12) ....... 27 25 22 22
WDM Dowling (30-8) .................... 29 21 25 25
CBAL (kills-aces-blocks): Samantha Bohnet 4-1-1, Bailee Gofta 0-1-0, Lauren Colpitts 7-0-1, Victoria Krohn 14-0-1, Hannah Hennings 4-0-3, Kelsey Johnson 7-0-5, Delaney Bolton 15-2-2.
WDMD: Tessa Mendoza 1-1-1, Anna Wisnieski 1-1-0, Lisa Eischeid 0-0-0, Alex DeMarco 11-1-4, Haley Shimon 10-0-0, Brooke Reichart 16-0-2, Jesse Proehl 1-0-0, Jessi Henter 10-0-4, Mykal Sadler 10-0-2.
Set assists: CBAL 45 (Bohnet 41, Gofta 3, Hennings 1). WDMD 55 (Mendoza 45, Wisnieski 4, Henter 3, Reichart 1, Shimon 1, Eischeid 1).