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Janesville, Solon Advance to State Volleyball Finals

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CEDAR RAPIDS Janesville faced a new opponent, but displayed the same penchant for punishment.

The second-ranked Wildcats appiled their second whipping in two days, quieting No. 4 Central Lyon, 25-12, 25-13, 25-14, in a Class 1A semifinal at the state volleyball tournament Thursday night at the U.S. Cellular Center.

"They played hard and everything, but we were just the better team," said Janesville middle hitter Anna Backstrom.

She wasn't boasting. Just telling the truth.

Just as it had in a first-round match against Springville on Wednesday, Janesville (37-4) kept its foot on the gas instead of settling for cruise control. Its reward, a championship-match date with No. 1 Fort Madison Holy Trinity (47-4) at 6 p.m. Friday.

Holy Trinity fought past No. 5 LeMars Gehlen in four games Thursday.

"It takes a lot of focus to stay up like that," Backstrom said. "You've got to come in like every point matters. You can't take anything lightly."

A win Friday would keep the small-school title within a cozy little area in Northeast Iowa for the 11th straight year, and within the Iowa Star Conference for the sixth. Tripoli won the last five 1A crowns, then fell in the quarterfinals Wednesday to Central Lyon.

Now, the Wildcats are hoping it's their turn.

"That's the team we'd been chasing," said defensive specialist Victoria Leyh said of Tripoli.

Backstrom said, "We're in such a tough area, and it helps a lot to see all those teams in the Saturday tournaments."

None of the sets were compelling. Credit Janesville, which broke in front 11-3 in the first game and 12-3 in the second.

Central Lyon (28-7) got up, 4-1, in the final set. Before you knew it, Janesville was in control at 16-9.

Backstrom led all attackers with nine kills. Sylvia Amlie added eight, and Brittney Hanson posted 29 assists.

Ashley Vande Stouwe counted five kills for Central Lyon, but the Lions' 15 kills were more than zeroed out by 24 attack errors.

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