CEDAR RAPIDS– “It’s been a topsy-turvy journey, but I’m pretty proud of them,” West High coach Kathy Bresnahan said last Wednesday (Nov. 2) night after her Women of Troy defeated Cedar Rapids Washington 3-0 in a Class 4A Regional final.
The win punched the ladies’ tickets to the State Volleyball Tournament, which begins today (Wednesday) at noon in the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena as West takes on Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln.
The Warriors gave West two points and the 4-2 lead early in game one, while a Shelly Stumpff kill made it 5-2. West never looked back and rolled to a 13-6 lead, prompting a Washington time-out. Wash took a break again with West up 19-9 and a Laynie Whitehead kill ended the set at 25-11. Mollie Mason had back-to-back ace serves in the set with kills by Olivia Fairfield, Stumpff, Mason and Whitehead. Kelly Fliehler also had an ace.
Fairfield and Fliehler kills led West to a 5-0 lead in the second set. The Warriors put up a few points here and there, but the ladies in green powered on to a 10-4 lead and another Washington time-out. Down 15-5, Wash paused again to regroup, but the more experienced Women of Troy continued on unabated to the 25-10 win. Fairfield picked up a pair of ace serves and a pair of kills in the game.
Mason opened the third set with a kill, and Fairfield followed with one to give West a quick 3-1 lead. The Warriors took their first lead of the night, going up 5-4. A brief back-and-forth battle ensued with Stumpff putting up three kills in a row. A Fairfield kill made it 10-9 and the Warriors never seriously threatened again as West closed out the night 25-16.
“I think Wash struggled because they’re young and they haven’t been here (in the regional final),” Bresnahan said. “This is our fourth year in a row, so we’re lucky in that respect. I think Wash wasn’t quite sure how to respond.”
Every win this season has been huge for the Women of Troy, and as Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” filled the gym, again the emotions poured forth: a mixture of happiness and sorrow.
“It’s a pretty emotional thing to get back there (to the state tournament). We’re excited for them…boy, they’ve worked so hard to get there, and they’ve done so much.”
The coach said “they’ve fought; they got through all of the tough parts. If you had told me on August 12 (the day after Caroline Found’s fatal accident) that we would get here, I would have told you you were crazy.”
Bresnahan also gave props to the team’s fans. “Our fan base is pretty amazing.” Fans posed with the team as the ladies held up their state qualifier banner and Found’s No. 9 jersey.
“Caroline is always on our minds,” Bresnahan said. “They’re playing with her and for her. They played like she would’ve wanted them to play.”