The Cedar Rapids Ice Arena is a cold place to be. It has to be, what, with the ice and all.
But when the ice was moved out last November for the state volleyball tournament, the action really heated up. Of the 28 matches played last year at state, 12 went over three games including Class 4A state champ Iowa City West having to win consecutive five-game thrillers to claim their title.
This year, the action gets even bigger as the state volleyball tournament will crown five champions for the first time ever. The additional fifth class will add seven more matches to the schedule as 40 teams compete over 40 days starting on Wednesday, Nov. 7.
Locally, last year’s final four-class state volleyball tournament saw Davis County and Fairfield come the closest to qualifying as both made it to the regional finals. Several area teams will be trying to clinch a spot in the first-ever five-class state tourney this year when regional postseason play begins on Tuesday.
SCC hopefuls to battle in 3A regional, Ottumwa heading to Burlington
The night before Halloween is set to be a big night for prep volleyball in Ottumwa. It could be even bigger if the Bulldogs can win their postseason opener.
No matter what happens with the Ottumwa volleyball team in the Class 5A regionals, the home court of the Bulldogs will be rocking on October 30. On the first of two nights where state volleyball tournament berths will be handed out, a ticket to Cedar Rapids will be handed out to the winner of Class 3A, Region 8 with the South Central Conference assured of having at least one participant in that regional final.
Davis County, who made it all the way to the Class 2A regional finals last year before falling to West Liberty, will battle along with SCC rivals Albia, Chariton and Centerville on one side of the Class 3A, Region 8 bracket. The Mustangs and longtime head coach Marty Barnett will open the postseason at Centerville to face the Redettes while Albia will host Chariton on Monday, Oct. 23 in the regional quarterfinals.
The winners will meet the following Thursday night in Centerville in one of several regional semifinals in Class 3A, 4A and 5A. That same night, Ottumwa will hit the hardwood for their postseason opener in a Class 5A, Region 8 semifinal at Burlington.
The Bulldogs have split their first 32 matches of the season, most recently going 2-3 at the Oskaloosa Tournament this past weekend. Ottumwa has not played the Greyhounds, who were just 4-17 entering this week without having a win against a Class 5A opponent.
Should Jessica Carson’s squad win at Johannsen Gymnasium, Ottumwa would advance to the 5A, Region 8 finals at Iowa City West to face either Muscatine, fourth-ranked Iowa City High or the hosting 10th-ranked Women of Troy. That same night, either Davis County, Albia, Centerville or Chariton will be playing for a berth in the Class 3A state tournament in Ottumwa against either Central Lee, Columbus, Mid-Prairie or currently unbeaten top-ranked Mediapolis.
The SCC may have more then one team playing for a state volleyball tournament berth. One night after at least one conference squad plays in the 3A regional finals, conference champ Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont is hoping to be playing for the Class 2A, Region 6 title in Grinnell.
Gladys Genskow’s squad, who won 17 straight matches at one point this season, received an opening-round bye and will open the postseason at home on Oct. 23 against either Pella Christian or North Mahaska. Those two teams play a first-round regional matchup in New Sharon on Wednesday, Oct. 17, the same night that SEISC south rivals Van Buren and Cardinal play each other in another Class 2A, Region 6 opener.
The winner of that contest between the Warriors and Comets will take on Pekin in Eldon on Oct. 23. The winners in Eddyville and Eldon face off the following Friday in Eddyville with that winner heading to the regional finals in Grinnell to face one of six teams headlined by current top-ranked unbeaten Dike-New Hartford.
Two area squads ranked among the top 15 look to have high hopes for at least having a chance to play for a state tournament berth in Class 4A. No. 11 Fairfield, who lost in the regional finals last year to Solon, host Knoxville in an opening round contest on Monday, Oct. 22, and would host a regional semifinal contest the following Thursday against Southeast Conference rival Mount Pleasant with a win.
Two Trojan victories would put Nancy Diers’ squad right back in a regional final for the second straight season. That regional final would be back in Washington, where the Trojans made it to last year, to face either the host Demons, Clear-Creek Amana or seventh-ranked Cedar Rapids Xavier.
No. 15 Oskaloosa, meanwhile, needs just two wins to make it to the Class 4A state volleyball tourney. The Indians will host either Carlisle or Indianola on Thursday, Oct. 25, and would play against either Pella, Newton or sixth-ranked Solon in Victor the following Tuesday.
Several teams will be looking to make it past two rated rivals from SEISC South play in Class 1A, Region 8. MSAE, Twin Cedars and Sigourney will be battling in one half of the region that includes 12th-ranked New London while Moravia, Seymour and Moulton-Udell will try to navigate past a seven-team draw that includes second-ranked Holy Trinity.
For a complete look at all five regional volleyball brackets, check them out at IGHSAU.org.