Sports

Warriors in tourney finals for 3rd time ever

Morgan Graber follows through on a kill in a win over Highland Thursday during SEI Super Conference pool play in Wayland where WACO won 2-0 over both Highland and Wapello to advance to Saturday's finals. (Doug Brenneman/Union)
Morgan Graber follows through on a kill in a win over Highland Thursday during SEI Super Conference pool play in Wayland where WACO won 2-0 over both Highland and Wapello to advance to Saturday's finals. (Doug Brenneman/Union)
/

WAYLAND — The score was already 18-5 and WACO was clearly in control when Aubri Garnsey’s acrobatic, twisted-body, backward, over-the-shoulder bump with the third hit of a scramble landed in the perfect spot on the other side of the net for a point.

It was the exclamation point on the second of two match wins for the Warriors Thursday in one of six pools of the Southeast Iowa Super Conference tournament. The 25-11, 25-10 win over Highland and 25-17, 25-11 win over Wapello sends the Warriors to the SEISC finals for the second consecutive year, but just the third time after a 2005 entry. The two wins give WACO a 19-1 record and punctuates the Warriors place at No. 13 in the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union rankings released Thursday.

WACO has never been ranked in volleyball according to head coach Jay Coble. The Warriors have one of the best records of the 15 ranked teams but Coble was happy with No. 13. “If you haven’t been ranked in the past, you have to win more games than you think to get that ranking so I had no problem with it.”

In the other match at Wayland, Highland took Wapello to a third set before falling 25-20, 13-25, 15-9. Kayla Cerny was playing again for Highland and the Huskies were on fire in the second set win.

“We were able to play with a lot more energy and I thought with Kayla back, it helped the team come together and play well,” Highland head coach Gina Trower said.

Garnsey is WACO’s career digs leader, currently fourth in Class 1A in digs and first in ace serves. Statistics do not provide a complete picture of all of her abilities and plays like the one that made for a 19-5 lead provide magic for a team.

“Some would say that is the mystical power of Aubrey Garnsey, but for me, it is the hustle of Aubrey Garnsey,” Coble said. “She is just that kind a player.”

WACO has a lot of special players with nine other seniors on the team, including WACO’s career kills leader in Morgan Graber. Graber had 18 in the two matches. Molly McLaughlin connected on nine kills and Lona Farrier eight. Garnsey had 24 digs and sophomore Grace Coble 37 assists.

The blocking from the Warriors produced four of five straight points in one stretch against Wapello.

“Sloppy play” in the first match against Highland turned into being “right on point” against Wapello especially in the second set, Coble said.

The first set with Wapello was tied five times through 9-9 but a WACO run with kills from Ellie Miles and Graber prompted a Wapello timeout trailing 17-13. The Warriors were never in trouble after that.

WACO is the No. 3 seed for the finals Saturday at Southeastern Community College and will face No. 6 Central Lee. No. 5 seed West Burlington and No. 4 Winfield-Mount Union play first. The WB-WMU winner will play top seed Holy Trinity. WACO-CL winner will face No. 2 seed New London.

“I think we will play a bearcat because Central Lee is playing the best of any in the South Division right now,” Coble said.

WACO will have to use all of their hitters and Coble said that a key could be the serve. “Every single one of them can go back there and get us some points and go on serving runs.”