The grand stage now awaits, and the Kuemper Catholic volleyball team feels that experience will pay off.
Coming back to the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union’s Class 2A State Volleyball Tournament, which begins this week, the Knights boast a talented senior core of Lauren Boell, Frannie Glynn, Aubrey Heuton and Kaci Peter. Furthermore, they have a supporting cast that most teams would envy in junior setter Karsyn Overmohle, sophomore setter Elsa Tiefenthaler, sophomore Brianna Wittrock and teammate Alivia Schenkelberg.
It helps that Kuemper has a wealth of knowledge and wisdom in head coach Rusty Wintermote and his staff.
The sixth-seeded Knights will need all hands on deck as they enter the Class 2A State Quarterfinals, where they will square off against No. 3-seed Grundy Center at 4:25 p.m. today on Court Two within the Xtream Arena in Coralville.
Kuemper (34-6) returns to the state tournament for the second straight season, after defeating Ridge View via a 3-0 (25-22, 25-19, 25-22) in the Class 2A, Region 2 Championship, held last Wednesday in Denison. The latest state berth is the Knights’ 14th overall appearance.
Grundy Center (37-7) rolled West Burlington with a 3-0 (25-19, 25-19, 25-15) final score to return to the state volleyball tournament for the first time since 2019. It is the Spartans’ 12th all-time appearance at the state tournament.
According to senior Kaci Peter, it’s great to be back at the show.
“Back to back, as a senior, what else can you ask for?” Peter said. “Going to the state tournament in your junior and senior years, there’s just no better feeling.”
Senior Lauren Boell echoed her teammate’s words.
“It feels super good, and it’s great to be going to state for the second year in a row,” Boell said. “It’s awesome.”
The Spartans will be no slouch, though, who earned their third seed with their own talented senior core made up of Ellery Luhring, Carlie Willis and Lucy Lebo.
So far this season, Willis leads Class 2A with 613 kills, going along with her 259 digs, 45 blocks and 37 service aces. All together, the Spartans are fourth in the entire classification in the kills department, racking up a total of 1,262 kills.
Luhring is a stellar setter, pacing the Spartan offense with 936 assists, 265 digs, 104 kills, 91 blocks and 46 service aces, while Lebo contributes greatly with 281 digs. Grundy Center also touts senior Shirley Monaghan (267 kills) and teammate Blessing Edittu (119 digs), along with junior Kayden Muller (139 kills).
The Knights will be ready, as they lead Class 2A in solo blocks with 254 blocks. This number is placed by Wittrock, who has already acquired 108 blocks – which is good enough for fifth-best in the classification.
Kuemper’s offensive arsenal is stout in Glynn (235 kills), Peter (230 kills), Heuton (212 kills) and Boell (177 kills), alongside Wittrock (149 kills). Tiefenthaler (503 assists) and Overmohle (475 assists) help keep opponents off balance, while Simons (513 digs) keeps her shovel ready on the back end.
Earlier this postseason, Simons joined the 1,000-digs club.
While the Knights are prepared to face what the state tournament will throw at them, the red and gold know that they will need to bring their best for each match going forward.
“I believe being matched up with more even competition will help calm our nerves,” Peter said. “We’ll definitely be working on our blocking, and staying aggressive defensively.”
According to Boell, it’ll be more so a battle against themselves.
“We need to start off strong right away,” Boell said. “We may be able to get away with the rough start that we had (against Ridge View). Because some of those teams will come after you right away. We’ll need to fix that, and we need to not worry about nerves and run with it.”
IGHSAU Class 2A State Volleyball Tournament
Xtream Arena, Coralville
Tuesday, October 31
No. 8 Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont (26-7) vs No. 1 Dike-New Hartford (47-0) – 2 p.m., Court One.
No. 4 Denver (34-10) vs No. 5 Sumner-Fredericksburg (28-13) – 4 p.m., Court One.
No. 2 Hinton (30-1) vs No. 7 Aplington-Parkersburg (34-8) – 2:25 p.m. Court Two.
No. 6 Kuemper Catholic (34-6) vs No. 3 Grundy Center (37-7) – 4:25 p.m., Court Two.
Wednesday, November 1
EBF/D-NH winner vs Denver/S-F winner – 4 p.m., Court One.
KHS/Grundy Center winner vs Hinton/A-P winner – 4:25 p.m., Court Two.
Thursday, November 2
Class 2A State Championship – 4:45 p.m.