By Andy Krutsinger, Mt. Pleasant News
CEDAR RAPIDS ? The Mt. Pleasant volleyball team had their hands full on Tuesday night when they hit the road to face Cedar Rapids Xavier, the topped rank team in Class 4A, in their regional semifinal match.
The Panthers were unable to take any sets from the heavily-favored Saints, falling 25-12, 25-9 and 25-10.
Mt. Pleasant fell behind early in the first set, but battled back from a 4-0 deficit to eventually take the lead.
Mt. Pleasant trailed 4-6 when Maggie Cristoforo got a kill to bring the game to 8-6 and give the Panthers the serve. Anni Liechty stepped up and led Mt. Pleasant to six-straight points, including two aces. The 7-0 run made it 12-8, the biggest Panther lead of the night.
It was all Xavier from that point forward, however. The Saints scored the next 17 points of the game to grasp momentum and go to 1-0 on the night with the 25-12 victory.
Mt. Pleasant hung with the Saints throughout the beginning of the second set, trailing just 6-5 after 11 points, but once again Xavier started to pull away.
The Saints scored seven of the next eight points to take a 13-6 lead before Ashlee Menke ended the Xavier run with a kill. Mt. Pleasant scored the next point to cut the lead to 13-8, but Xavier finished the game on a 12-1 run to win set two, 25-9.
Xavier scored the first six points of the third set. Mt. Pleasant cut the lead to 6-2 after two-straight points, including a block from Kalynn Batey and Sadie Carrasco.
Cristoforo and Fraise each had a kill midway through the set and Cristoforo cut the Xavier lead to 16-7 with a block. Batey had one more kill before the night was up but the Saints still breezed to a 25-10 win in set three.
Coach David Streeter said the key to the Panther success early was their serving, but that an inability to run their offense throughout the night contributed to the loss.
?Where it got away from us was (when) we hit that wall, where we couldn?t pass the serve up,? Streeter said. ?They basically rattled it out and we couldn?t run an offense. If we?re giving it to them, they will just hit it around us.?
Mt. Pleasant finished the season 13-19, including a 4-4 record in the Southeast Conference.
The Panthers will have to make up for a handful of graduated seniors next season. Menke, Batey, Fraise, Dani Broeker, Joana Ortiz and Stacey Apadaca all played their final game in a Mt. Pleasant uniform.