Playoff Push: Volleyball team readies for Regionals

The high school women’s varsity volleyball team, led by head coach Matthew Johnson and assistant Adam Timmins, has been dominating its season so far by winning 36 out of 39 games.

Johnson said, “I think we’ve had a pretty successful season so far as the girls have reached some of their goals they set for the season. We have played a couple really good matches. Our two wins against Dike-New Hartford were really well played. We also played strong matches against Sumner-Fredricksburg, Iowa City, City High and Cedar Rapids Kennedy.”

Many of the players couldn’t agree more about the direction in which the season is heading. “This volleyball season has been great so far. We had a lot of people come back this year, so have high expectations for the season,” junior Taylor Becker said. “Also, the team gets along really well, which really helps with team chemistry and makes it fun. This year we’ve been ranked No. 1 in the state, so we have a big target on our backs, and every team that plays us really wants to beat us, so they play with more energy.”

Junior Abby Hendrickson said, “We push each other to do our very best. Dike has been our best game so far. I feel like they have been our greatest competition so far overall. We faced them four times and split two and two. We won the last two matches, because we like to have the final word.”

Many members of the team have a long relationship with the sport. “This is my 13th year coaching,” Johnson said. “I coach because I enjoy it. It’s a great chance to surround myself with positive, goal-oriented people who enjoy the sport and understand the hard work required to be successful. The best part about coaching is the kids. Whether it is my high school volleyball program or junior high track, I enjoy the people I get to work with. I am a big believer in the impact sports have in the lives of teens and the benefits they receive from the athletics and activities. I enjoy being part of that process.”

“I’ve been playing for six years,” Becker said. “I play because I really enjoy the sport and team atmosphere. We have a good work ethic at practice, and we have big goals for the season, so we know how hard we have to work to achieve those goals. Our coach really pushes us to keep getting better and reminds us that just because we’re good, doesn’t mean we can stop working hard.”

With Regionals so close, the girls will have to keep on working their hardest to achieve their final victory. “Once you get to State, it becomes a matter of who can handle playing well on a big stage against really good teams,” Johnson said. “I am hopeful that we can rise to the occasion, as we have a lot of talent and confident players. We try and focus on what we’re doing and not worry as much about others. Our class will be very talented at the state level with Linn-Mar, Ankeny, West Des Moines Valley and Ankeny Centennial all having the chance to win State.”

“I think we’re in great shape,” Becker said. “We got great pairings, and I think we have a good chance of going back to State. We beat Kennedy during the regular season, and I would say they were our biggest competition for regular season games, but Ankeny Centennial is very good, and I would say they would be our biggest competition if we were to play them at State.”

Hendrickson said, “We are mentally and physically ready to win our region and continue our quest for a state title. Playing as a team is something we need to continue. We can’t take any team for granted because each match could be our last. Also, we need our energy on the floor. We have the talent to win games, but sometimes we need to get more excited out on the court. Ankeny Centennial is our greatest competition at this time in class 5A. We are ranked first, and they are ranked second in the state.”

The women’s regional play will be held next Tuesday, Oct. 25 with their regional final being the following Monday on Oct. 31. Both matches will be held at home.

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