Libby Lansing leads the celebration as Ella Meyer, Madison Maahs and Natalie Ulrichs are happy to join in after Western Dubuque won match point to claim the Class 4A District 7 title by beating Decorah in Epworth, Oct. 26.

Volleyball season in the state of Iowa might have started back in August, but it’s when the calendar says regional tournament that the season becomes real. That’s when the equation for survival becomes very simple, win and you move on. Lose and your season is over.

The Western Dubuque volleyball team has been taking survival training all year long and has made plans to be the last team standing in Class 4A as they aim to win their first state volleyball championship in school history. The Bobcats have a good reason for that as the No. 1 ranked team in Class 4A rolled over the Decorah Vikings in their Region 7 final in Epworth (25-18, 25-21, 25-19) to earn their place in the elite eight in Cedar Rapids.

“It feels awesome to be moving on. All of us seniors on the team, we all worked so hard for this moment and to have it on our home court with our fans, it just shows that Western Dubuque is a special school,” said Madison Maahs, one of seven seniors. “This is what makes being a Bobcat so special. Our fan base is incredible and everybody is just one big family here.”

“Everybody has come to support us. Parents, grandparents, students and teachers have come out to support us all season long,” said Megan Scherrman, head coach, on the floor of the gym with the crowd still celebrating the state-trip clinching win. “It’s created a great energy in this gym and it’s fun to play in here.”

The Bobcats dominated Decorah (28-7) like they have every team they have played since they began a 25-0 run on Sept. 18. During that time, Western Dubuque has lost just four of the 56 games they have played in those 25 matches.

It was a back-and-forth battle in the opening game of the match, but the mighty arm of Meredith Bahl was responsible for winning four points in a seven-point run that allowed the Bobcats (31-3) to take charge. Libby Lansing and Maddie Harris combined for a key block to take a 21-15 lead and Lansing added a kill to make it 22-17 while Maahs sent the ball over on two to get the winning kill, 25-18.

Decorah put up another fight in game two, but the Bobcats were not going to be denied. Whenever Western Dubuque needed to stop a Viking run or earn a big point, it seemed that Lansing was always there, especially late in this game. Lansing’s kill after a back-row kill by Bahl tied the game at 17-17. Back-to-back kills by Lansing put the Bobcats up 20-18. Lansing recorded kills at 22-19 and 23-21 to help them close out game two.

“She scores points and doesn’t make a lot of errors. We just have to keep giving her the ball,” said Scherrman about Lansing. “But as a whole, our girls just don’t get panicked. They are playing with such confidence right now so we are just working on one point at a time right now. That’s exactly what they did here tonight.”

“She came out and she performed today, props to her,” said Bahl about Lansing’s play. “She ran our offense awesome and Maddy Maahs just knew who to give the ball to.”

“Tonight was more of a confidence thing. I came in knowing that I can do it and that my last game wasn’t my best,” said Lansing. “I needed to make a change so I just started swinging and whatever worked worked.”

Lansing slammed down a season-high 16 kills with many of them coming in game three. Bahl, who had a match-high 17 kills, was also big in the finale. Bahl’s back-to-back kills gave the Bobcats the lead at 15-14 and her final kill of the night put Western Dubuque at set point as they went on to win 25-19.

“All season long we have worked really hard. every day we would come to practice and just grind it out every day. We just know that we can be there and should be down there in the championship game,” said Bahl, who is making her third trip to the Alliant Energy Powerhouse in search of her first state title. “It’s a blank slate now. Everyone knows what we can do, we just have to come out and do it.”

WD’s leaders vs Decorah were: kills — Bahl 17, Lansing 16, Harris 15, Maahs five, Anna Kluesner one; assists — Maahs 42, Bahl, Lansing and Meyer one; digs — Meyer 23, Bahl 18, Natalie Ulrichs 17, Harris 12, Maahs six, Hailey Wulfekuhle two; blocks — Lansing five, Bahl three, Harris and Kluesner two; serves — Ulrichs 14-of-14, Harris 11-of-11, Bahl 8-of-8, Maahs 14-of-15, Emma Kapler 10-of-11; aces — Bahl and Maahs one.