Meredith Bahl tries to hit past a Cedar Rapids Xavier defender.

For the second year in a row, the Western Dubuque volleyball team left Cedar Rapids with some impressive hardware, but it wasn’t the size or color they had their hearts set on. The Bobcats ended their drive for their first state title when they lost their Class 4A semifinal battle in straight sets to Cedar Rapids Xavier (22-25, 23-25, 16-25) at the Alliant Energy Power House, Nov. 4.

“We didn’t necessarily complete our end goal, but in the long run, we made it to the state tournament again and we were one of four teams who had a chance to win the Class 4A championship,” said Megan Scherrman, the Bobcats’ head coach. “So we’re not going home as state champions, but the reality is we lost to a really good Xavier team this year. They were tough.”

The Bobcats (25-11), who were beaten by Xavier (25-6) in a meeting earlier this season, knew they would have to attack the Saints just like they have every other team they played this year. They also knew that winning the first game would go a long way to helping them get a step closer to the state title game.

Knowing they wanted the Saints to chase them, the Bobcats jumped out to an early 5-1 lead on an ace by Meredith Bahl. However, that’s the biggest lead the ‘Cats would enjoy all day as Xavier’s tall front line started to come up blocking attacks. Eve Magill, 6-5 roofed Meg Besler to get things going for the Saints as they tied the game at 9-9. The two teams stayed close to each other until the Bobcats went up 18-15. The teams traded side outs, but a kill by Besler gave the Bobcats something to get excited about as they took a 21-18 lead, just four points away from taking the first game. Quickly the Saints marched back to tie the game at 21 and a kill by Magill gave the Saints their first lead at 22-21. Maddie Harris’ bump kill made it 22-22, but that would be the last point the Bobcats would score in the game as Maya Karl, 5’11”, earned the final three points for the Saints.

It was a back and forth affair in the second game, except it was the Bobcats doing the chasing. The Saints held an 11-8 advantage until the Bobcats reeled off four straight points to take their first lead at 12-11. The Bobcats’ lead grew to two at 16-14, but the Saints won seven of the next nine points to hold a 21-18 lead. After earning a side out, Besler blasted a body shot kill, Bahl recorded a kill and an ace and, the next thing you know, the Bobcats are up 22-21. Once again the Saints flexed their muscles at the net and came up with two blocks to get to game point. A tap kill by Besler made it 24-23, but the Saints closed the door on game two and took a large step to closing out the match.

“We really needed to win game one. We were on top until late and we should have completed that game,” said Scherrman. “I think it would have been maybe a little bit more of a different story, but I think Xavier taking that game just kind of gave them all the momentum and then they were running on all cylinders. Then they are big too. They are hard to stop.”

Maahs was in the middle of all the action for the Bobcats as she dished out 28 assists to five different hitters. Besler, one of two seniors for the Bobcats, had a team-high nine kills in the match with Bahl throwing down eight. Harris had six, Libby Lansing five and Maci Steffen, the other senior, four. Maahs was credited with three kills.

WD’s statistical leaders were: kills — Besler nine, Bahl eight, Harris six, Lansing five, Maci Steffen four, Maahs three; assists — Maahs 28; digs — Bahl 12, Harris 10, Ella Meyer eight, Maahs seven, Natalie Ulrichs three, Steffen two, Besler one; blocks — Besler and Steffen one; aces — Bahl two.