ELDON — No Van Buren. No problem.
The Cardinal volleyball team rolled to four wins in its home tournament on Saturday, beating a trio of foes from the Bluegrass Conference including two sweeps of Twin Cedars. The Comets secured the championship with a 21-7, 21-11 win over the Sabers in the championship match, winning a title that was secured by the Van Buren Warriors last season.
Van Buren, ranked fourth in Class 2A and coming off an impressive three-set sweep of No. 9 (1A) Holy Trinity, faced the Comets on Monday as part of a triangular in Moravia. The Warriors, ranked fourth in Class 2A, earned a pair of wins in the triangular sweeping the hosting Mohawks 25-7 and 25-8 in the opening match before outlasting the Comets in three sets (17-25, 25-13, 15-8), improving to 14-2 on the season.
“We play Van Buren so many times during the season, so I think it was good for us to see some different teams,” said Katie Orwig, who took over head coaching duties for the Comets on Saturday for Jerald Harter. “The girls handled things really well. They stepped it up and played their game. That was good to see.”
Maddie Cloke led the Comets at the net on Saturday, securing 31 kills in the four wins including a championship-clinching swing against the Sabers. Cardinal had an impressive day serving the volleyball, racking up 42 aces with Maddy Langford racking up 13 while Trista Benedict added 12.
“You always want to win, but you really want to win in your own tournament even more,” Benedict said. “Usually, we miss more serves. This was a good serving day for the entire team. We had several sets where we were able to serve out. I think we wanted to impress our home crowd and we wanted to come out on top, so we used that pressure to our advantage.”
Twin Cedars and Seymour both finished splitting four matches with the Sabers falling to Cardinal 21-9 and 21-14 to end pool play. The Sabers (5-8) earned a place in the championship match, winning a three-set battle with Seymour on a block by Chloe Swank that clinched a 16-14 win in the final set.
Seymour (5-7) bounced back from losses to Twin Cedars and Cardinal (21-11, 21-8) to earn a pair of wins over Moulton-Udell including a sweep in the third-place match. M-U (0-9) opened the day suffering a 21-6, 21-7 loss to the Comets.
Cardinal (9-4) would finish off Monday’s triangular in Moravia with a 25-8, 25-21 win over the Mohawks. After hosting Danville tonight in a south division match, the Warriors will join the Comets in focusing on the Southeast Iowa Superconference tournament which begins with four sites of pool play on Thursday.
The Warriors earned the top seed at Burlington-Notre Dame’s quadrant and will face the Nikes, Wapello, Columbus and Hillcrest Academy on Thursday. The top two teams from all four pool play quadrants will advance to play in the SEISC tournament quarterfinals on Saturday in West Burlington.
Cardinal, who advanced to the quarterfinals last year, will compete as the No. 3 in Lone Tree’s quadrant on Thursday. The Comets will face the hosting Lions as well as Central Lee and Winfield-Mount Union needing at least one win over one of the two winning programs to advance to the final night of the SEISC tournament for a second straight year.
“That was a great experience getting to play that deep into the conference tournament last year,” Cloke said. “We’re ready to do it again.”