Breaking down the Class 2A state volleyball tournament field
CORALVILLE — It will be a new environment for all of the teams at the state volleyball tournament as Xtream Arena becomes the host this season.
While the venue will be new, some of the teams in the 2A tournament field won’t be, including two perennial powerhouses, Dike-New Hartford and Western Christian, who take the top two seeds in the field. One of those two schools has won the 2A state title for each of the last 12 seasons with Western Christian winning five and Dike-New Hartford winning seven, including last year when they swept the Wolfpack in the title match.
So will anyone else be able to knock off either of the two giants who have combined for 32 state titles all-time? Let’s break down the 2A tournament field to see.
#1 Dike-New Hartford (42-2)
State tournament appearances: 32
The two-time defending champs will look for a three-peat this year. The Wolverines still have plenty of firepower left from last year as they graduated just two senior starters. Back for their junior seasons are twins Payton and Jadyn Petersen who lead the team in kills. Payton powered down 456 with a .374 efficiency this fall while Jadyn has 286 kills with a .226 efficiency. The team has some other attacking weapons as well with three others with over 100 kills. Dike-New Hartford is hitting for a .334 efficiency as a team this season.
Key player: #21 Payton Petersen, 5-11, Jr., Outside Hitter — Named the captain of last year’s All-Tournament team for 2A, Petersen is dangerous in many phases of the game. Her 456 kills rank in the top 10 in the class this season. She also leads the Wolverines with 61 ace serves. Defensively she is second on the team in digs.
Key stat: 2 — Number of losses this season. Dike-New Hartford isn’t completely invincible as they have lost two matches this season. Those came to Dowling Catholic, the 4-seed in 5A, and Mount Vernon, the 3-seed in 3A. Both losses came in weekend tournaments by 2-0 scores with three of the four set losses decided by the minimum two points.
#2 Western Christian (40-5)
State tournament appearances: 40
Western Christian knows a thing or two about playing at a state tournament. They’ve made it to state for 22 years in a row now and will try to make it to the final four once again. A quarterfinal win would give them 29 final four appearances, surpassing Dubuque Wahlert for most in state tournament history. Wahlert still holds the record for team championships with 20, but Western Christian would pull to within two of that if they can win all three matches in Coralville this week. The Wolfpack are more dependent on just two attackers than they were last year when they spread the ball around a little more, but those two attackers are pretty good. Abby VerBurg has 466 kills with a .416 efficiency and Stella Winterfeld is close behind with 462 kills on a .350 efficiency. Western Christian is hitting .327 as a team this season.
Key player: #4 Stella Winterfeld, 5-9, Sr., Outside Hitter — Named to the All-Tournament team last season, Winterfeld does a little bit of everything for the Wolfpack. She is second on the team in kills (462), digs (301), and aces (42).
Key stat: 1,372 — Number of kills this season. The Wolfpack lead not only Class 2A, but the entire state in total kills this season.
#3 Wapsie Valley (41-4)
State tournament appearances: 8
Wapsie Valley made back-to-back appearances in Class 1A in 2019 and 2020, but missed out on the state tournament last season. The school does have two state titles under their belt, coming in Class 1A in 2006 and 2007. The team’s other three appearances came in 2A in 2009, 2015 and 2017. Wapsie Valley is one of three North Iowa Cedar Conference East division teams to make the state tournament, joining 2A 7-seed Sumner-Fredericksburg and 3A 8-seed Union. Two of their four losses came to teams in the Central division of their conference who have also made state in 2A, Dike-New Hartford and Denver.
Wapsie Valley is hitting .274 as a team this season with six players with at least 95 kills. Leading the way is senior Hannah Knight who has 372 kills with a .280 efficiency.
Key player: #3 Sydney Matthias, 5-8, Sr., Setter — Matthias leads the team with 875 assists and can also attack when needed with 113 kills. She is also third on the team with 295 digs and leads the squad with 55 ace serves.
Key stat: 257 — Number of aces. Wapsie Valley leads the 2A state tournament field in ace serves this season.
#4 Hinton (26-2)
State tournament appearances: 3
Hinton is making their third overall state tournament appearance and first since 2013. Their other trip to state came in 2005. All of the appearances have come in Class 2A. Hinton lost their state quarterfinal match to Sumner-Fredericksburg, a fellow qualifier this year, in their 2013 trip in four sets. Hinton beat Durant in their quarterfinal match in 2005 by a 3-1 score before falling to eventual champion Aplington-Parkerburg in three sets in the semifinal round. Hinton is hitting .298 as a team this season with six players with at least 80 kills. Bailey Boeve is the focal point of the attacking corps, but several others can come through with kills as well.
Key player: #9 Bailey Boeve, 5-11, Fr., Middle/Outside Hitter — Boeve has made an impact right away as a freshman for the Blackhawks. She has 300 kills with a .461 efficiency this season. The attacking efficiency is best of any player in the 2A tournament field. Also look for Boeve to be a force at the net with 85 solo blocks.
Key stat: 459 — Total blocks. Hinton leads the Class 2A tournament field in total blocks this season.
#5 Denver (36-10)
State tournament appearances: 3
Denver is making their third straight state tournament appearance as those are the school’s only three in their history. Denver was also the 5-seed in last year’s bracket and swept 4-seed Boyden-Hull before falling to the eventual champions from Dike-New Hartford in the semifinals. Denver also beat Boyden-Hull in the 2020 tournament as the 5-seed in four sets. They then swept Western Christian in the semifinals before getting swept by Dike-New Hartford in the championship. Denver hits for a .265 efficiency as a team. They are led by Kayla Knowles who has 618 kills with a .338 efficiency this season.
Key player: #14 Jessica Gergen, 6-0, Jr., Middle Hitter — While Knowles leads the team in kills, Gergen is second with 381 on the season. Gergen leads the team with 94 total blocks and 56 ace serves.
Key stat: 1,177 — Number of assists for setter Channing Johnson. After graduating setter Reese Johnson, who made two All-Tournament teams, younger sister Channing Johnson stepped into the role as a freshman and leads the entire state in assists.
#6 Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont (30-5)
State tournament appearances: 5
Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont is making the state tournament for the first time since 2015, the last of three straight appearances for the team. They also made the tournament in 2006. The Rockets have just two players with more than 75 kills this season. They have relied heavily on Molly Shafer (481 kills) and Whitney Klyn (214 kills) for their offense. Overall, the team hits for a .298 efficiency.
Key player: #2 Whitney Klyn, 5-9, Sr., Outside Hitter — Klyn is the second-leading hitter on the team and second on the team with 226 digs. She leads the team with 76 ace serves.
Key stat: 86.6% — Serving efficiency for the Rockets. The team has the lowest serve efficiency of the 2A state qualifying teams.
#7 Sumner-Fredericksburg (31-10)
State tournament appearances: 7
Sumner-Fredericksburg last made the state tournament in 2020 while they had five straight trips to state from 2012 through 2016. The team’s last trip to state ended in a 3-0 loss to Dike-New Hartford as the 6-seed. The Cougars were the third place team in the North Iowa Cedar Conference East division, but the two teams ahead of them, Wapsie Valley and Union, also advanced to state. The team has three players with over 100 kills and hits for a .304 efficiency as a team.
Key player: #17 Isabelle Elliott, 6-1, Jr., Outside Hitter — Elliott is the go-to attacker for the Cougars. She has 651 kills with a .460 efficiency this season. The kill total is highest for any player in the state this season. She also leads her team with 60 ace serves and is second on the roster with 286 digs.
Key stat: .756 — Overall team win percentage. Sumner-Fredericksburg has the worst overall win percentage of the 2A state qualifying teams. However, nine of their 10 losses came to other state tournament teams. The other loss came to a regional finalist.
#8 Kuemper Catholic (38-4)
State tournament appearances: 13
Kuemper Catholic’s most recent trip to state came in 2019. The team played in 3A that season as well as the year before when they won the state title in that class. Of the 2A state tournament teams, Kuemper is the only one to rely on a dual-setter system this season. Ashlyn Badding has most of the assists with 650 while Macy Simons has assisted on 460 this year. The shared setting duties have also carried over into the hitting aspect with one of the more balanced hitting teams in the tournament. Six players have over 100 kills for the team this season.
Key player: #10 Sophie Badding, 6-0, Sr., Middle/Outside Hitter — Badding leads the team with 316 kills and has the team’s highest kill efficiency of the main attackers with a .299 rate. She also leads the team with 136 solo blocks.
Key stat: .234 — Team kill efficiency for Kuemper, the lowest of the 2A state qualifying teams.