WASHINGTON, Iowa Kasey Vanden Bosch held the state-qualifier banner against her back, like a cape, and took it for a victory gallop.
She certainly earned the moment.
Vanden Bosch and Kayla Torson commanded the net, and ninth-ranked Cedar Rapids Xavier exploded after a slow start in plenty of time to sweep Fairfield, 25-21, 25-13, 25-14, in a Class 4A volleyball regional final Tuesday night at Washington High School.
"This had been our whole goal since the beginning of the season," Vanden Bosch said. "We knew it was a possibility that this would happen, and it feels so great now that it's here."
The Saints (26-11) advance to the state tournament for the fourth time. They will face No. 1 Charles City (42-1) at 6 p.m. or 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 7 at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena.
Torson whacked 16 kills, and Vanden Bosch added 15 including 14 in the final two games.
"You always want to feed the hot hitters, and both of them were hot tonight," said Xavier setter Sarah Homan. "We wanted to get them open to make plays, and our middles were drawing blockers to help the outside hitters."
It took about a half-game for the Saints to get untracked. Fairfield (26-8) built a 14-8 advantage in the first set.
"I think the anxiety of the game and the atmosphere played a factor early on," said Xavier Coach Barb Sullivan. "We were putting too much emphasis on every point instead of relaxing and playing our game."
Xavier eventually settled in, scoring seven of the next eight points to square the set at 15-all. Fairfield reclaimed the upper hand at 19-16, but the Saints scored five in a row, capped by Homan's ace, to take the lead for good at 21-19.
Torson's kill gave Xavier the set, and it got a lot easier from there.
"I was hoping we could sneak Game 1 through," said Fairfield Coach Nancy Diers. "We had them rattled a little early, but they are so sound fundamentally. They pass right where they want to."
Xavier broke to an 11-5 lead in the second game, and a six-point run gave the Saints a 13-6 cushion in Game 3. Fairfield didn't threaten in either set.
Homan collected 35 assists and converted all 17 of her serves three for aces.
Sidney Baumann and Sydney Howard had six kills apiece for Fairfield.