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HS Volleyball: Solon Defeats Xavier in Warrior Invite

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CEDAR RAPIDS They gave a championship effort. They deserved the corresponding prize.

The Solon Spartans continued their every-other-year tug of war with Cedar Rapids Xavier, sweeping the Saints, 25-14, 25-19, for the title at the Warrior Invitational volleyball tournament Saturday at Washington High School.

Class 4A second-ranked Solon dropped just one set in five match wins and improved to 7-0 this season.

"We pulled it all together at the end of the day," said Spartans Coach Peter Gustin. "We had some teams push us, but when we minimized out errors and kept our serves in, we were pretty tough."

Their sweep of 4A No. 9 Xavier (5-2) complete, the Spartans accepted their trophy. But wait a minute ... it was the runner-up trophy.

"I read (the inscription), then Jordan (Smith) took it over (for exchange)," said setter Taylor Nearad, who ran the Spartans' show with efficiency she collected 24 assists.

Saturday's finalists have combined for each of the last four titles at this event. Xavier won it in the 2010 and 2012, Solon in 2011 and 2013.

The Spartans were 4A state runners-up last year, and have some new faces in the rotation after losing all-staters Kelsey Cave and Kelsey Hinrichs to graduation. Nearad is one of them.

"I set for the JV last year, and this is all new," she said. "We run a lot more plays. I try to get the ball to the hitters equally."

Smith collected 10 kills in the championship match, Vikolia Meade six, Jordan Runge five.

The Spartans' lone blip of the day came in their third pool match, dropping the second set against Marion before prevailing, 21-16, 19-21, 15-11.

Xavier got to the final by going 4-1 in pool matches. The Saints won their first four, including a sweep of 5A No. 2 Johnston, before tripping against Linn-Mar.

By then, they had already clinched a berth in the title match.

"We didn't know it until after the match," said Xavier libero Halle Heying. "We were just really tired by the end of the day. Against Johnston, we really talked well and didn't give up many big plays."

The eyebrow raiser of the day was Cedar Rapids Jefferson, which won three of four pool matches before bowing to Johnston in the third-place match.

Jefferson (4-2) already has matched its win total from a year ago, when it finished 4-33.

"The girls mentioned that to me," said first-year coach Mary Kay Van Oort. "We're making progress, and we want to be respected as a team. The teams we beat today, I feel good about that."

The J-Hawks were without leading hitter Amanda Ollinger in their final match.

"She got tagged by the eye (by an errant ball) between matches, and she wasn't good enough to play," Van Oort said. "We missed her. She's been getting more swings, and she's a year older." o

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