Liberty High Earns First State Tournament Bid With Regional Final Sweep of Dubuque Hempstead

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Ryan Murken

Your Prep Sports

NORTH LIBERTY – The best season in the history of Liberty High athletics got even better on Monday evening.

A whole lot better.

Liberty High advanced to the state volleyball tournament for the first time in program history with a 25-21, 25-16, 25-17 sweep of No. 11 Dubuque Hempstead in the Class 5A, Region 7 title game in North Liberty.

“It’s insane, we’ve been dreaming of this since day one and now that it’s a reality I can’t even describe it,” Liberty High sophomore Sydney Woods said. “I can’t even describe the feeling I have right now.”  

After posting a combined 32-35 mark in its first two varsity seasons Liberty High has established itself as a state title contender in year three.

Second-ranked Liberty High (34-2) will face seventh-ranked Pleasant Valley (29-5) in its state tournament debut on November 12 at Noon at the US Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids.

“I never thought (34-2) and the state tournament would happen but now that it has happened our new goal is to win state,” Liberty High senior Lee Ann Potter said. “It’s really cool having Liberty start at the bottom and now reach this level.”

Woods had a team-high 11 kills and freshman Cassidy Hartman added 10 as Liberty High became the first girls team to reach the state tournament in school history.

Five Liberty High players had at least five kills on Monday as seniors Potter and Rylee Fay had eight and five kills respectively.

“It feels amazing,” Fay said. “This was my plan and our team goal from the beginning to be at the state tournament. It’s just an amazing feeling.”

After a slow start in the opening set Liberty High was as dominant on Monday as it has been all season.

Dubuque Hempstead (20-14) jumped out to an 8-1 lead in the opening set forcing a Liberty High timeout.

Liberty High responded by scoring 12 of the next 16 points to take a 13-12 lead.

“They showed their true colors because we had to weather the storm there is no doubt about it,” Liberty High coach Randy Dolson said. “We were down 8-1 and we didn’t lose any faith in them. We just calmed them down a little bit and they came through and I’m awful proud of them.”

Dubuque Hempstead took its final lead of the opening set at 18-17 on an Ashley Glennon kill but Liberty High responded with a 5-1 run to take a commanding 22-19 lead.

Potter and Woods capped the 5-1 spurt with back-to-back kills.

“In the beginning we were a little nervous because we were expected to win and we have to come out and play good,” Potter said. “After that start we just settled down and played our game and fought back.”

Woods had five of her team-high 11 kills in the opening set including the two final points for the Lightning in the come-from-behind win.

“We were really jacked up at the beginning but once we got in to the flow everything just clicked and it was great,” Woods said. “Once we got up we knew we had it.”

Liberty High used some aggressive serving to break open a close game early in the second set.

Eight of the 11 ace serves for Liberty High on Monday came in the second set and seven of those aces came after Hempstead took a 10-9 lead.

Addie Schmierer had two aces, while Fay had three as Liberty High ended the set on a 17-7 run.

“We just had to go out and serve hard and be aggressive,” Potter said. “From the start we knew we weren’t the biggest team so we had to be scrappy, be good defensively, be good in serve receive and serve really aggressive and we’ve worked hard at that and improved a lot.”

Liberty High never trailed in the third set jumping to a 9-2 lead and cruising to a 25-17 win.

The win was the 21st in the last 22 matches for Liberty High and completed a goal that was born all the way back in January.

“We met in January and I flat out asked the girls what are your girls for this season and they said ‘state’,” Dolson said. “We’ve put in a lot of time.”

Liberty High                          25  25  25

Dubuque Hempstead          21  16  17

Liberty High

(Kills-aces-blocks)

Addie Schmierer 0-2-0, Lauren Roman 0-0-1, Rylee Fay 5-3-0, Sydney Woods 11-3-0, LeeAnn Potter 8-2-0, Shelby Kimm 3-0-1, Cassidy Hartman 10-1-1, Team 37-11-3.

Assists – Hailey Hested 13, Rylee Fay 11

Dubuque Hempstead

(Kills-aces-blocks)

Corinne Meier 12-1-0, Ashley Glennon 2-0-0, Leah Moeller 1-1-1, Becca Lockwood 6-0-3, Morgan Hawkins 2-1-0, Sydney Paulsen 0-1-0, Team 23-4-4.

Assists – Laney Herman 9, Morgan Hawkins 8

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