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Three Months After Player's Death, West High Volleyballers Back In Finals

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IOWA CITY, Iowa - In the hours between their victory over Cedar Rapids Kennedy and their state final showdown with rival Iowa City High, the Iowa City West volleyball team spent an hour laughing their final night away.

In a tiny room watching their Friday semifinal win over Kennedy, the Trojans also understand the significance of their journey.

On August 11, senior Caroline Found was killed after crashing her moped. Found was a two-year starter and a major cog in the machine of West High's 2010 Class 4A state title squad. On top of that loss, Found's mother, Ellen Found, passed away less than two weeks later after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.

"Three weeks into the season, the second week of September, we said, 'guys, we gotta do it now," said head coach Kathy Bresnahan. "Other teams, as much as they've been supporting us, we're not going to get the pity vote."

The Trojans wear black t-shirts with a large '9' on the back and the word 'LINE' on one sleeve to remember Caroline.

Senior Olivia Fairfield tried to sum up what she missed about her close friend and longtime teammate.

"Everything," said Fairfield. "Her laughter. Her smile. What she brought to the team."

Bresnahan said Found's death also led her team much closer together. She said her team doesn't squabble or argue about the little things a high school team often does.

"It was a tremendous personal loss with Caroline and we have to keep them loose," said Bresnahan. "There have been days where we (the coaches) have struggled and the players have kept the coaches loose."

Iowa City West is now 38-6, their Class 4A title game with Iowa City High should be extremely competitive as City High is 40-3 after its semifinal win over Ankeny. Game time is 11 a.m. at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena.

As with the rest of the Trojans' games for the 2011 season, the number '9' will be on the bench. The team will count to '9' in the timeouts and they'll look to where the Trojans keep Caroline Found's shoes, on the bench.

"It's everywhere I see that number and I think of her," said senior Anna Pashkova. "We definitely had really bad days where we had to pull together and talk it out."

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