CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Carly King and Emma Schubert were swinging freely and carrying the offense. Emma VanSeveren was anchoring the back row with her scrappy defense.
After Davenport Assumption’s volleyball team tallied nine of the last 11 points to claim the third set and snare a 2-1 lead Wednesday morning, momentum was on its side.
It quickly dissipated.
Fifth-ranked Osage, making its third consecutive state tournament appearance, altered its offensive game plan, regrouped and rallied to conquer fourth-ranked Assumption in a five-set Class 3A quarterfinal at the U.S. Cellular Center, 25-22, 22-25, 17-25, 25-17 15-9.
“Everyone got the nerves out and we felt good (after the third set), but I think we settled in a little too much,” King said. “We missed a lot of opportunities in that fourth set and then lost the momentum going into the fifth.”
The Green Devils pounced.
Powered by 19 kills from Danielle Johnson and 47 assists from Rylie Olson, Osage never trailed in the final two sets to end Assumption’s season at 31-6.
Osage (30-6) had a hitting efficiency of .297 in the fourth set and .636 in the fifth after compiling percentages of .083 and .000 in sets two and three.
“We have been here three times, been in this situation before,” Olson said. “We have played high-level sets before, and it was just a matter of us keeping ourselves cool.”
The Green Devils altered their block and changed their attack. Osage set the ball more inside the antenna to avoid hitting at VanSeveren, who collected 13 digs and kept many rallies alive in the second and third sets.
“(VanSeveren) was playing out of her mind, so we had to get the ball to Zone 1 and 6 and away from their libero,” Osage coach Andie Olson said.
Conversely, Assumption could not find many cracks in Osage’s defense.
“Their defense just got better and better,” King said. “They were figuring out how to read our hitters, and we just couldn’t capitalize.”
Knotted at two sets, Osage faced little resistance in the deciding fifth. Assumption had two attack errors and was whistled for a ball control error leading to a 3-0 deficit.
The Knights pulled within 5-4 but never could tie the game. Osage, in fact, scored six of the ensuing eight points to separate itself.
“We had a lot of girls competing in a high-pressure situation maybe for the first time,” King said. “It is a tough situation to be in with everything riding on that set. We lost sight of keeping it simple, and we made a few extra mistakes.”
Johnson had four of her 19 kills in the fifth set. Sydney Midlang (13), Paige Kisley (11) and Kaebre Sullivan (11) joined her with double-digit kills.
Assumption had some notable performances.
King had a career-high 16 kills, four blocks and hit a robust .609.
“Carly was just a monster up there, which was nice to see,” Assumption coach Bre Scherler said.
Schubert, a sophomore, finished with 13 kills, 11 digs and two blocks. She and King were at the forefront of an Assumption offense that had 38 kills in the first three sets.
“Before the game, we told Emma you’re going to have some nerves coming into a big arena like this,” setter Lea Nelson said. “She showed out, and it’s awesome as a setter to have a sophomore play with so much confidence. She’ll truly be a leader for this program the next couple of years.”
Nelson directed Assumption’s offense with 43 assists. She also registered 11 digs.
The Knights graduate five starters — VanSeveren, King, Nelson, Anna Vonderhaar and Maddy Mayeski. They shared the Mississippi Athletic Conference title with Pleasant Valley and made the state tournament for the second time in three years.
“We can’t hang our heads,” Nelson said. “This loss does stink a lot, but there were so many incredible memories throughout the year. We were conference champs, beating Bettendorf and going to state. This season has been amazing and definitely a good one to end on my senior year.”
Schubert and Kylie Welch will serve as the nucleus of next year’s team.
“Our seniors really passed on to our younger kids we can compete at that level,” Scherler said. “It wasn’t what we wanted today, but going forward our young kids know what it is like to be here and perform, and hopefully we can take it to that next level.”