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Kuemper senior excited for second title shot

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The second-leading hitter for Carroll Kuemper in the 2013 Class 3-A state championship volleyball match was Abby Derner, who had six kills.

Two years later as a senior, Derner will get one more shot at state glory.

Second-rated Kuemper (28-3) will meet No. 11 Sergeant Bluff-Luton (35-11) in an all-western Iowa Class 3-A state quarterfinal at noon Wednesday in Cedar Rapids’ U.S. Cellular Center.

Two years ago, Derner’s team was swept by MOC-Floyd Valley. Paige Overmohle, now a senior, also played for the Knights in that match. Derner said she will have some words of wisdom for her younger teammates before they take the court.

“Just to stay calm and just play your heart out, because state is one of the best things ever,” she said.

Kuemper is making its ninth state appearance and fourth in five years. Coach Keith Stickrod, who is taking his fourth team to state in seven years at the school, said his squad thinks the game well.

“We’ve worked on the mental part of it, and that’s the part that’s working right now,” he said. “Our mental game is there.”

Kuemper uses a four-pronged attack around smooth junior setter Abby Lohrmann (10.7 assists per set). The 5-10 Overmohle (3.2 kills per set, .322 kill efficiency) leads the way, followed by 5-9 Derner (2.7, .319), 6-0 freshman Aimee Adams (2.6, .396) and 6-2 sophomore Kalee Peter (1.4, .284).

After experiencing it once, Derner’s objective this week is simple.

“We have a goal to get to the championship,” she said.

In order to get there, Kuemper will have to overcome a talented Sergeant Bluff team that’s making its first state appearance in 30 years.

The Missouri River Conference regular-season and tournament champions have established a single-season school wins record and are led by 6-2 senior middle Brittni Olson, who averages 3.2 kills per set with a .402 kill efficiency to go with a team-best 1.2 blocks per set.

First-year coach Renee Winkel’s team emerged from a strong regional, beating No. 3 Sioux Center and No. 10 Spirit Lake along the way.

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