Cowgirls can’t stop No. 1 Carroll Kuemper

—Photos by Jim Slosirek/The Gazette Clarion-Goldfield/Dows’ Vanessa Kolb (center) celebrates scoring a Cowgirls point against Kuemper in a Class 3A quarterfinal in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday.

CEDAR RAPIDS — Facing off against Goliath, the Clarion-Goldfield/Dows volleyball team was unable to play the role of David here Wednesday afternoon.

The Cowgirls saw their season come to an end in the quarterfinals of the Class 3A state tournament inside the U.S. Cellular Center in straight sets vs. No. 1 Carroll Kuemper.

Scores were 25-17, 25-14 and 25-18.

The Knights (43-1 overall) now face Osage (30-6) on Thursday back here on Court 1 at 2 p.m. The sixth-ranked Green Devils advanced with a five-set victory over No. 4 Davenport Assumption in the 4-5 matchup.

Making their first state appearance since 1998, Clarion-Goldfield/Dows (27-9) didn’t back down against the mighty Knights, who have now reached the final four each of the past four seasons.

While it wasn’t the final result C-G/D head coach Katrina TerHark wanted, she had nothing but positives to say about her program, which shared for the North Central Conference title this past fall with Humboldt and Iowa Falls-Alden.

“Everyone is so proud of this team,” TerHark said. “The support from the school and community has been overwhelmingly positive. It’s been so fun for the girls to get the recognition they deserve for all the hard work they have put in.”

As she has done all year, sophomore Morgan Middleton led Clarion-Goldfield/Dows, recording a team-high 10 kills. She also finished with a team-best seven digs, with Haley Nerem adding eight kills and Vanessa Kolb five.

Emily Kapka and Jadyn Jondle chipped in two kills each, Megan Askelesen had six digs and Alaina Freisleben recorded 23 assists and four digs. They committed just one service error in the match, with Jondle and Nerem picking up an ace each.

The Cowgirls advanced to the state tournament with a victory in regionals over Iowa Falls-Alden, who was a state qualifier last year and also lost in the opening round to Kuemper in straight sets.

Aimee Adams and Kara Peter each had 12 kills to lead the Knights, with Grace Molak adding 10. Kuemper also had six team blocks compared to three by Clarion-Goldfield/Dows, with five service aces and seven errors.

This marked the final match for Cowgirl seniors Askelesen, Kapka, Nerem, Kolb and Madison Kubly, with the rest of the roster featuring 10th-graders Jondle, Emma Conlon, Freisleben, Middleton, Kendall Lienamann and Nicole Waters.

“You hope (a season like this) makes everyone hungry to want to be here again,” TerHark said. “You want your kids to feed off the excitement and put the time and work in during the offseason (to make it happen).”

The winner between Kuemper and Osage will face either No. 2 Tipton or ninth-ranked Mount Vernon on Friday at 2:30 p.m. for the 3A title. Tipton bested No. 13 New Hampton in four, with Mount Vernon upsetting No. 3 MOC-Floyd Valley in four.

The Knights have yet to get past the semifinals in each of their past three state trips, falling to eventual champion Waterloo Columbus in five last year. Osage also made the semis a year ago, losing in five to Sioux Center.

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