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Opening-night sweep for Saints

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CEDAR RAPIDS Kayla Torson has a new coach and a new setter.

She also has the same old powerful swing.

Torson slammed 17 kills, and Class 4A ninth-ranked Cedar Rapids Xavier swept past Linn-Mar, 25-18, 25-19, 25-18, in an MVC Valley Division volleyball match Tuesday night at Ron Thillen Gymnasium.

"Everything was clicking together," said setter Britni Scholtes, who distributed 40 assists. "We have a lot of hitters, a lot of options for girls that can put the ball away."

At the forefront was Torson, a returning all-stater from a team that reached the state tournament last year. The 5-foot-10 junior outside hitter was consistent throughout, collecting six kills in each of the first two sets, then five in the closer.

The match featured two of the four new Metro coaches. A Cedar Rapids native (she graduated from Jefferson High School in 1998), Krista Johnson moved back home after serving as an assistant at Northern State University in Aberdeen, S.D., for the last two seasons.

"It was a tough two years being away from my family, but I learned a lot," she said.

Torson said, "I love Coach Johnson, she's awesome. She's confident and she knows her stuff."

Meanwhile, Hall of Famer Teresa Kehe takes over at Linn-Mar after seven years at Loras College. She won six state championships at Tripoli High School.

"It's going to take work, and it's going to take time," Kehe said about building the program. "One of the things we're working on is raising the expectation level. We want to be competitive, tenacious and aggressive."

In each of the three games, Xavier (1-0 overall, 1-0 division) used a decisive run around the midpoint to gain separation.

The Saints scored six straight points in the first set to break a 14-all tie. In Game 2, Torson smacked three straight kills to ignite a 9-1 run for a 14-10 advantage.

And in the finale, Torson posted a kill and two aces, then Madsy Richards followed with a block and two kills in a six-point run that made it 21-14.

At match point, Torson drilled a kill off a dig attempt that nearly sailed into the balcony on the south end of the gym.

It's only the first step. But Johnson sees this as a team with a high ceiling.

"If we continue to work hard, there's no limit on what we can do," she said.

Richards added 12 kills for the Saints. Xavier converted 71 of 74 serve attempts with eight aces.

Aryn Jones led Linn-Mar (0-1, 0-1) with six kills.

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