Lewis Central Titans

(KMAland) -- There is quite possibly no other sport where upsets are tougher to come by than volleyball.

In the sport of volleyball, you must beat a team three times in order to actually win the match. In football, basketball, baseball, softball or whatever, a lead you gain is a lead you must give up. In volleyball, if you take a set, you have to start all over and do it again. And then if you do it again, you have to do it even one more time.

This is why the so-called better team – or the favorite – will usually win in this wonderful sport. But not always. Sometimes a team has 19 blocks, serves in eight aces and gets an all-round terrific performance from a wide range of hitters. Sometimes a team comes back from down 20-16 in the opening set and then down 19-10 in the second and then uses a 7-0 streak to win the fifth. That time was last night.

Glenwood beat Lewis Central for the first time since 2015 last night. I googled and found out it was a span of 1,483 days. More important than the win over Lewis Central is that the Rams volleyball team clinched their first trip to state. And so the decade of Glenwood continued. Today, though, this blog is mostly about Lewis Central (53).

The Titans had a wonderful team this year. They were one of the tri-champions of the Hawkeye Ten Conference. They won 28 matches, including victories over the likes of Waukee, Nevada, Western Dubuque, Iowa City High, Ankeny Centennial, Bettendorf, St. Albert, Sioux City East, Kuemper Catholic and yes, Glenwood.

The team was largely engineered by a senior class that made contributions for two, three and even four years. There’s libero Rachel Cushing, who went over 1,000 career digs earlier this season and was always a stalwart in the back row. There’s Presley Rodenburg, who had her best hitting night of the season (and maybe of her career) last night. 

There’s Natalie Driver – the splendid setter with over 2,000 career assists. There’s Lauren Payne – the state runner-up in the discus and shot put that provided veteran leadership and a strong presence in the middle. There’s Delaney Esterling, who moved to the outside and made a major impact on the pin and at the service line throughout the year. And then there’s Megan Witte.

The University of Northern Iowa recruit originally fancied herself as a Division I basketball player, and I have no doubt that she could be that. Instead, she will play volleyball at UNI – a great program – and she will turn in a fantastic career. As fantastic as the one she just finished? Well, that’s going to be very difficult, but she has all the talent in the world to do it.

When it comes to her overall talents, Witte is undoubtedly one of the great multi-sport athletes of the past decade in KMAland. She’s probably hurting today, but what a wonderful career she had and what a wonderful legacy she leaves at Lewis Central. There were two state tournament trips in her freshman and sophomore seasons, and there were two other regional final appearances in her last two years. Again, it ended earlier than she – and the rest of her senior teammates – would have liked. But they’re going to be remembered for a lot more than last night’s regional final. What a fantastic career. All of them.

Class 1A and 2A regional finals hit the court tonight, and we sure hope to have a small group to commemorate tomorrow. Let’s send four more to state!

Send any questions, comments and/or concerns to dmartin@kmaland.com.