Diane Lichtenberg knew her volleyball team's latest defeat could come back and bite them in a few weeks.

After posting four straight wins in its home invitational Saturday, Class 5A ninth-ranked Bettendorf stumbled to No. 13 Ankeny in the championship match, 25-23, 19-25, 10-15, at Bettendorf High School.

Bettendorf and Ankeny are in the same Class 5A regional. If they meet in the final for a trip to state on Oct. 30, the team with the higher state ranking hosts the match.

"I wanted to get that one," Lichtenberg said. "We knew how important it was and we talked about it. That would have been a big win for us, but we've got to get through the first round (of regionals) anyway."

Bettendorf (21-4) hung on to win the first set, but Ankeny (21-13) capitalized on some erratic Bettendorf passing to take control midway through the second set.

"Our passing wasn't as smooth and we became very predictable," Lichtenberg said. "With that, their block started to come alive."

The Bulldogs fell behind 9-6 in the third set, but rallied back to tie it at 10.

Ankeny, though, scored the final five points. Bettendorf had a service error, a bad pass off a serve and an attack error in that span.

"The girls have been buying into what we're selling the last few weeks," Ankeny coach Joe Morton said. "We've got a young lineup that is starting to become dynamic. We can be tough for a lot of teams in the postseason."

Morton admitted it was important for his team to see Bettendorf before the postseason. It wasn't necessarily vital for his squad to prevail.

"We're more worried about our level of play," he said. "We've finally started to hit our stride. We've had some rough losses with some five-setters against (Ankeny) Centennial, (West Des Moines) Valley and Dowling. The chance for us to come back in a championship match and learn how to win, that's a bigger deal than maybe hosting (a regional final)."

Bettendorf beat Muscatine and Rock Island in straight sets during pool play. It outlasted state-ranked Urbandale in three sets.

In the semifinals, the Bulldogs cruised past Iowa City High, which they could see in the regional semifinal, 25-13, 25-21.

"Our first four matches were really, really good," junior middle Ally Grothusen said. "We had high energy and were clicking very well. It was like that in the first set against Ankeny.

"Then things started falling apart here and there. When we started to get a little down, our attitudes dropped and so did our play."

Emma Ostrom led Bettendorf with 27 kills and 39 digs in the tournament. Lita Solbrig and Caroline Baer each had 23 kills.

Abbey Fromi and Grace Erpelding teamed for 105 assists.

Grothusen had a team-high 10 blocks. Erpelding finished with six.

"Blocking and defense is a big part of finishing games," Solbrig said. "Ankeny was a little quicker and we didn't get the blocks up at times."

The Bulldogs still have two Mississippi Athletic Conference matches remaining against Davenport West and Davenport Central along with a tournament at Johnston next weekend.

"(Johnston) will be a big tournament for us, a lot of good teams there," Solbrig said. "We'll want to have a good showing there so we're rolling into regionals."

Clinton and Rock Island each compiled 1-2 records at the tournament but did not advance out of pool play. Alleman and Muscatine finished 0-3.

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Prep sports editor, with emphasis on covering the Mississippi Athletic Conference and Iowa area high schools. I've been in sports journalism for 17 years, the last five at the Quad-City Times.