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Davenport Assumption has spent numerous weeks and seasons the past decade ranked No. 1 in softball, girls basketball and girls soccer.

Volleyball? Uncharted territory.

The Knights climbed to the top spot in the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union Class 3A rankings for the first time in program history last week.

Assumption has not let it deter them.

After a perfect run at the Northeast tournament on Saturday, Assumption knocked off Davenport North 20-25, 25-10, 25-12, 25-19 on Tuesday night at North High School to extend its win streak to 15 matches.

"It is a first for our program, but it just a number out there," Assumption coach Bre Scherler said. "All it does is make the target grow bigger and bigger. At this point, it is a pride factor to keep it up."

More importantly, the win over North sets up a biggie next Tuesday. Assumption (26-2, 6-0) travels to 5A fifth-ranked Pleasant Valley (22-3, 6-0) in what will decide the Mississippi Athletic Conference race.

The Knights beat the Spartans in a best-of-three match at the Linn-Mar tournament in September, but Scherler admits her squad didn't get the Spartans on their best day.

"We're excited, counting down the days," libero Bri Gartner said. "We have to stay focused and have a good mentality the whole game."

Scherler's team raced out to a 6-0 lead in the first set Tuesday, lost its focus and dropped the opening set.

The Knights regrouped with dominating performances in the middle two sets and used an 8-2 surge midway through the fourth to put it away.

Kylie Welch had a match-high 18 kills with six aces. Ava Schubert recorded 16 kills and Emma Schubert posted nine. Assumption finished with a 51-32 advantage in kills.

"We weren't playing our game in that first set," Welch said. "When we change our mindsets, get in our own groove, we're really good."

Gartner, in particular, gave the Knights a lift. The sophomore kept the Knights in several points with diving digs and was 22 of 23 serving.

"I've made a lot of improvement since last year," she said. "I've definitely improved in serve receive. I really had to fight for my spot, so that helped motivate me during the offseason."

Scherler said Gartner came back a vastly improved player this summer than the one she saw on the court for the sophomore team last year.

"It was a shock and awe factor," Scherler said. "It was a nice, pleasant surprise. Like we saw tonight, she makes some of those spectacular plays and those are really momentum shifts. It was nice to see her pick the team up."

It was Senior Night for North, which recognized Justyus Jackson, Bailey Ortega and Emma Janecek before the match. Jackson and Ortega have been three-year starters and were influential in coach Heath Donath applying for the job at North more than two years ago.

"The things I used to see at Assumption (as an assistant), as far as the dedication and in the weight room, I saw out of those girls," Donath said. "It means the world to any volleyball program, any coach. I need 25 of those kids to be a winning program.

"All three have amazing parents, parents that have bought in. I couldn't ask for anything more from three girls in a volleyball program."

Jackson had a team-high 12 kills and Ortega finished with 28 assists.

Assumption travels to Center Point-Urbana for a tournament this weekend before the showdown with PV.

"This match has been the talk all season long," Scherler said. "I anticipate a knockdown, drag-out fight next week. Those are the best matches, the ones that are back and forth and whoever can persevere at the end.

"We both respect each other, so it should be a lot of fun."

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Sports Editor

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.