Senior Aimee Adams (2) leads Kuemper Catholic off the floor at the state volleyball tournament following a 5-game semifinal win over Osage on Nov. 8. 
Senior Aimee Adams (2) leads Kuemper Catholic off the floor at the state volleyball tournament following a 5-game semifinal win over Osage on Nov. 8. JEFF STORJOHANN | DAILY TIMES HERALD
" “I can’t even put it into words, it’s a dream come true. Now we have these pink shirts, these medals and the trophy that says ‘state champion.’" " Aimee Adams, KHS Senior

Cedar Rapids -

Aimee Adams’ initial brush with the state volleyball tournament really stuck with her. 

The Kuemper Catholic legend remembers the pain vividly, even though she wasn’t yet 10 years old.

The record-setting senior broke into tears as her older sister, Allison left the U.S. Cellular Center court in 2008 without a title, surrounded by fellow Kuemper teammates. 

It was at that moment the younger Adams set a goal for herself, she’d not only return to Cedar Rapids as a varsity starter, but she’d also help bring home the school’s first volleyball state championship. 

That decade-long dream was finally realized Friday, Nov. 9 in the very last game of Aimee Adams’ career, as the record-setting Knight and several of her closest friends celebrated the elusive 3A state title. 

The dream had come full circle on the same court she first conjured up that lofty goal.

“I just balled and balled and balled,” Adams said Friday remembering her first experience with the state tournament. “After that, I didn’t want (it) to be like that. I’ve always had that urge. We’ve been to state all four years, but we always got stuck on the second day. It’s really cool to be here.” 

Sure, Adams held a handful of records even before she set foot on the court for Friday’s championship match - she’s the school’s all-time leader in kills (1,375), most state tournament appearances (four) and most wins in a career (142). She’s also the winningest female athlete (team sports) in school history and the only athlete in school history to play in four consecutive state tournaments. Adams lost only 10 times in four years (an average of just under three losses per year), including this year’s single-season record-setting 45-win squad in which the Knights lost just once, 

Those entries in the record books are nice, but meant little without a validating state title. Friday, she finally got it, a 3-1 win over Tipton in typically dominant fashion. 

“I can’t even put it into words, it’s a dream come true,” an elated Adams said. “Now we have these pink shirts, these medals and the trophy that says ‘state champion.’ 

We made school history and it’s cool to be apart of.”

Kuemper head coach Keith Stickrod witnessed Adams’ special talent all the way back in the sixth grade. Her sheer power separated her among other AAU teammates, which ironically foreshadowed the greatest run in Kuemper volleyball history. 

“She had a quick snap,” the 10th-year coach said. “She had a quick arm swing. That’s something you really can’t coach. She’d come up to the (net) and she’d have a really quick arm.”

That raw talent set in motion a historic run that will likely never be matched. 

— • — 

Adams shined all four years of her high school career, never tallying less than 230 kills in a single season. But the senior saved her best for last, taking her game to the next level in 2018. 

She produced a career-high in kills this past fall (425) including a title-clinching 22 kills in Friday’s historic victory over Tipton. She furthered her stranglehold on the Kuemper record books, as the University of South Dakota signee wrapped up her career with nearly 1,400 kills. 

That extra gear is something teammate Kara Peter attributes to the senior’s never-ending will to improve. 

“I learned how to be one heck of a volleyball player (from her),” Peter said. “She doesn’t get down on herself. She’s very coachable.” 

Peter was just a tad intimidated when she first shared the practice court with Adams as a freshman (Adams’ sophomore year). Her incredible talent was something Peter only imagined she could ever achieve. But as the wins piled up and the trips out east became more frequent, a tight-bond formed, a fierce friendship that culminated with Friday’s victory. 

Entering the state tournament, the pair had a firm grip as the top hitting duo in Class 3A as they continued to pounce on their out-matched opponents. Peters and Adams finished the year with 806 combined kills.

“She was a beast,” Peter remembers of their first encounter three years ago. “This year, it was something different. We became one. We had the same passion and desire. Knowing that (we) could do this, not only for her but for all the seniors, it’s awesome.

We ended her last game of high school ball on this court.”

Leadership - and of course her natural ability - is what separated Adams from others in the program and allowed the Knights to reach unprecedented heights. 

Her experience in Cedar Rapids helped push KHS over that irritating semifinal ledge after three straight failures. As KHS found themselves trailing Osage 2-1 in the 2018 state semifinals, Adams’ closest friends leaned on her for guidance. 

“Aimee is actually one of my best friends,” Overmohle said. “She’s amazing. She’s the biggest leader on our team. She pushes us in practice every day to go after everything. 

We knew it would come down to games like this where we’d have to (push).”

The Knights would go on to win back-to-back sets, capped by the game’s final four points, clinching Adams’ first trip to the state title game.

Four years of success punctuated by the first state championship in school history. Of course, this group of girls will always have a special place in Adams’ heart. 

“We always had fun together,” she said. “Our chemistry is amazing. We played well together. We all had the same goal. It’s hard to describe.”

As Adams turns her attention toward basketball season and her ensuing enrollment in Vermillion, South Dakota next fall, she hinted at how welcoming the campus is. The Coyotes are 19-9 this fall with a 13-3 conference record entering the Summit League tournament. 

“Everything felt like home, I didn’t want to go to a huge school,” she said of her college decision. “The coaches are amazing. I loved the team chemistry. Everyone was focused. The coaches are so nice and so relatable, it’s like family there.” 

If she produces anything as half as ground-breaking in college as she did in Carroll, USD is in for one heck of an encore.