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Harlan sends CCA home with 3-0 semifinal sweep Nov. 13

Clippers’ historic cruise at state ends early
Natalie Brimeyer (left) and Alyssa Weldon attempt to block a Sioux City Bishop Heelan Crusader. in a Class 4A state tournament quarterfinal round match Tuesday, Nov. 11, at the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids. Brimeyer led the Clippers against the Crusaders and against the Cyclones of Harlan in CCA’s first state tournament appearance since 1999. (photo by Chris Umscheid)

CEDAR RAPIDS– While the Clear Creek Amana (CCA) Clippers only made it to the semifinals of the Class 4A State Volleyball Tournament, that’s farther than any CCA team has been since 1999.
The Harlan Cyclones blew through the U.S. Cellular Center Thursday, Nov. 13, and swept the Clippers 3-0 to end CCA’s bid for a state championship. The defending 4A Champion Cyclones had little trouble winning 25-12, 25-16 and 25-13 to end the CCA season at 27-10. Harlan was led by 2013 Class 4A Player of the Year Jess Schaben with 18 kills.
In stark contrast, Natalie Brimeyer was held to just eight kills and one ace serve as she led the Clipper offense. Ashley Prusha added five; Corrine Schwarting made three while Hanna Stokes and Alyssa Weldon made two apiece. Lauren Helle rounded out the CCA kills with one for the match.
The historic journey started in dramatic fashion for the Clippers with a 3-2 win over Sioux City Bishop Heelan on Tuesday, Nov. 11. The Crusaders entered the State Tourney with their 16th appearance in the last 17 seasons and a 31-13 record to the Clippers’ 26-9.
However, CCA proved a formidable opponent by winning the first two sets 25-13 and 27-25.
Then, the momentum shifted to the Crusaders, who tied the match with 25-8 and 25-22 sets, prompting the fifth game. It was a tough situation for the Clippers, who had seen matches slip away after an earlier lead throughout the season.
“No team is flawless,” Brimeyer said after the match. “We just hit a little bump in the road, and we knew we had to stick together and play for our teammates and not ourselves. We pulled together, took a deep breath and played our game.”
Lauren Stopko added it came down to practice and presence of mind. “We practiced a lot of scenarios, like last point kind of drills, where you can’t make a mistake but you still have to go hard, so I think that really paid off.”
The Clippers took the fifth set 15-13.
“Those last few points, we knew we had a lot to do,” Stopko said, “but we weren’t making those mistakes, like, ‘Oh my God!’ You don’t think about it too much, because we practiced it.”
That practice goes back many, many years, Brimeyer said. “We knew for us it was the first time (at state), but we’ve played volleyball for a very long time with these girls. I played with Lauren (Stopko) since eighth-grade year, so it’s like… everyday, an everyday thing to get to play with them.” The state tournament, Brimeyer said was no different than practice or scrimmage, “just an everyday thing.”
Brimeyer led the Clippers with 18 kills, Weldon had 13 and Prusha put up a dozen. Dacia Lipkea and Stokes had five kills each while Helle made two and Sheyanne Koethe had one. McKenzie Fuller made a pair of ace serves, Brimeyer had five blocks total, Prusha had four and Helle made three.
The Clippers will lose Lauren Stopko, McKenzie Fuller, Bailey Butler, Dacia Lipkea, Hanna Stokes and Natalie Brimeyer to graduation next spring.