WEST BRANCH, Iowa – Only a net separated it. On one side there were cheers, hugs and high-fives. There were pictures, smiles and hoards of people, all wearing maroon of Pleasant Valley volleyball.
On the other, donning the red and blue of Cedar Rapids Washington, fans sprinkled the court inside West Branch High School; their arms crossed, heads down, not a smile to be found.
The reason hung above the Warriors fans. The scoreboard displayed the score 15-13, the score of the fifth set in favor of Pleasant Valley as it beat Washington 3-2 in the 4A regional finals on Tuesday.
"They're 38-1. They're a really good team. And you know what, I think our girls were prepared," Washington head coach Kari Lombardi said. "I think they came to play tonight and I think they did a great job. I'm really proud of them."
The Warriors did more than hold their own, they held the lead in the fifth, after taking the first two sets. Overall Pleasant Valley won 21-25, 19-25, 25-12, 25-19, 15-13. There wasn't much drama in both teams' win in the first four sets. Pleasant Valley caught fire in the third when Chloe Miller began to take over.
"I think when we were able to establish our offense, get the ball to her more consistently and get the ball to her, that she was able to put the ball away," Pleasant Valley head coach Stacey Ruff said. "I knew that we'd be in a much better place by the end of the night."
It wasn't without a fight from the Warriors' own close Danielle Franklin. Down, 7-3 in the fifth, Frankin tallied four kills to pull her team ahead 9-7. Overall she had six in the fifth set alone.
"During the Pleasant Valley timeout I told Hanna (Reese) feed Dani, and she did," Lombardi said.
It wasn't enough. Franklin's last kill put the Warriors up 10-9. Pleasant Valley made an adjustment to guard the line and closed the set on an 8-5 run.