IOWA CITY — Davenport Assumption left nothing to chance Monday.
Focused from the start, the Knights earned their third berth in the Iowa state volleyball tournament in the four years with a methodical 25-15, 25-17, 25-17 win over Independence in an Iowa Class 3A regional final at Iowa City West.
"We wanted to come out and set the tone right from the start," said Kylie Welch, one of three seniors on the Assumption roster. "This is when you have to be at your best, bring everything you have. We came here to take care of business."
That was apparent from the start.
Top-ranked Assumption took a 5-1 lead in the opening set and when the Mustangs pulled within 9-7, a kill by Welch extended an edge which grew after an ace by Annabelle Costello fueled an 8-1 run that positioned the Knights to take the opening set.
"We knew that Independence was a good team, a scrappy team, and we came out ready to battle for every point," junior Emma Schubert said. "We knew we had to bring that kind of mentality to this match."
The fast start was welcomed by Assumption coach Bre Scherler.
"It seems in our last few matches, we’ve started a bit slowly but that wasn’t the case tonight," Scherler said. "We started out with some high intensity, something we needed in a match like this. We were locked in and working together. It was great to see, exactly what we needed."
The Knights played liked a team not wanting to be on the outside looking in when the state tournament begins next week in Cedar Rapids.
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Schubert, who led Assumption with 12 kills, three aces and 11 digs, felt the Knights fed off of each other well from one point the next.
"We’ve worked all season to get to this point, and it was important that we come out and play our best," Schubert said. "We have some good talent on this team, and it took everyone to step up and get this done."
Independence (29-12) didn’t go quietly, opening 13-11 lead in the second set before Assumption began to rally.
Kills by Claire Smith and Schubert positioned the Knights to take a 15-14 edge on an ace by Schubert, part of a run of nine unanswered points which left Assumption in control 21-14 on its way to a 25-17 win in the set and a 2-0 lead in the match.
"Every point mattered," Schubert said. "We were willing to battle for every point, and that intensity, it made a difference."
The Knights (32-5) never looked back, jumping out to a 13-6 lead in the third set.
The Mustangs ran off three straight points, but a kill by A.J. Schubert and another Welch’s eight kills allowed Assumption to maintain a comfortable advantage, leading 22-17 before scoring the final three points of the match-deciding set.
"We did what we set out to do," Welch said. "We did the little things well, and with every point, you could feel the confidence grow. In volleyball, that confidence has to be there and it was there from the start. It was what we hoped for and this, it feels great. The confidence, it was the key."
Scherler, whose team faces Union in a 10 a.m. state quarterfinal next Wednesday, credited the upperclassmen on the Knights’ roster for setting that tone.
"Last year, they didn’t get what they wanted and they came back this season determined to make it happen. I'm very proud of the effort everyone has put into it and the seniors, they've given us great leadership," Scherler said.
"The way they’ve worked all the way through the season, there has been an intensity about it that has carried over the younger players on our team. They don’t want it to end yet, but they can be proud of this win and what we’ve accomplished so far."