For six of the last seven years, and the last five years straight, Kuemper Catholic and the State volleyball tournament have gone hand-in-hand.
This year’s State qualifying team punched their ticket on Monday evening when they took down Humboldt, the toughest competition the Knights had seen in their tournament run, in three straight sets.
Although the Knights were able to defeat the Wildcats in straight sets that doesn’t mean that their fifth-straight trip to Cedar Rapids was a breeze to earn.
After giving up the first two points of the match to Humboldt, Kuemper rallied for the rest of the opening set.
Humboldt would make several mini-runs at the Knights for the rest of the first set, but the Knights’ front line was too much to handle and the Wildcat attack never took off. Kuemper took a 25-16 first set win, and moved two set wins closer to their fifth-straight State tournament.
The Knights seemed to be better in the second set as they continued to use their attack to perfection. Humboldt struggled to keep up.
Kuemper’s fast and furious attack helped them build nearly a 10-point cushion over the Wildcats. The trip to Cedar Rapids was becoming clearer and clearer.
Humboldt unleashed their own attack and started to eat away at the Knights lead, but it was a case of too little too late as the Knights won the second set 25-17.
Now just one set away from their fifth trip to the big dance, the Knights weren’t going to let the trip get away from them. They went right to work throughout the third set. Within minutes the Knights had built a six point lead.
Just when it seemed like the trip to Cedar Rapids was a sure thing, Humboldt started to make an comeback. They eventually tied the set at 17.
Kuemper responded, and fought their way to a third set, 25-20 victory. With it, they earned their 12th trip in school history to the State volleyball tournament. In the last decade alone the Knights have made nine State tournaments. Since 2011 they have only missed one State tournament.
Overall the K nights are entering the State tournament with a 35-4 record this year. During that time they captured a share of the Hawkeye 10 Conference (a total of four Hawkeye 10 teams have made the State tournament this year).
On Monday senior Kara Peter led the team with 17 total kills. Anna Niehaus was able to add nine kills against the Wildcats.
Another senior, Madison Leonard finished with five kills in the match. Sophomore Kenzie Schon had three kills.
Both Sophie Badding and Bethany Schleisman had two kills each.
Dishing out all of the kills was senior Mariah Naberhaus who led the Knights with 22 assists in the match. Freshman Ashlyn Badding added nine assists. Mallory Badding added four assists while Sophie Badding added one more assist.
Mallory Badding led the Knights with 20 digs. Overall, against the Wildcats Kuemper Catholic had 86 digs.
Naberhaus added 16 digs. With 12 digs was Peter.
Kenya Prescott finished with nine digs while Ashlyn Badding had eight. Kenzie Schon finished with four digs. Sophie Badding finished with three digs and Leonard had two.
Kuemper had 15 total blocks on Monday. They were led by Peter with six. Sophie Badding and Leonard both had four block each.
Schleisman finished with one block.
As a team the Knights had 93 percent of their serves land in play. Mallory Badding had two aces. Naberhaus added a third ace.
The Knights will play in the quarterfinals of the State tournament on Wednesday, Nov. 13 when they play Unity Christian at 10 a.m.