Liberty volleyball had historic season

The Liberty volleyball team made history this year, becoming State runner-up. The Live Wire showcases the incredible season the girls had.

Liberty+team+members+celebrate+a+hard-fought+point+against+Valley+during+the+semifinal+match+of+State.+

Courtesy of Lauren Roman

Liberty team members celebrate a hard-fought point against Valley during the semifinal match of State.

The 2020-2021 Liberty volleyball team has been the best Liberty has ever seen. Coming off of a loss in the first round of State last year, the Bolts had high hopes for the season ahead of them.

“With the experience under our belt [from] last year, our goal for this year was to make it to the championship match and ultimately win,” said Lauren Roman, senior.

Liberty started off the season 1-1 with a win against City High and then a loss against Dowling Catholic. After their second game, coach-led practices were forced to shut down when school went all online. The girls had to find other ways to practice, not involving coaches or Liberty’s facilities. 

“I feel like the break made us more zoned into the season,” said Mariah Rollins, freshman, “[because] it seemed like we could’ve been shut down again.

After the 23 day break, the Bolts had to play 20 games in 22 days to finish out the season. They started off from the break playing eight days in a row and winning seven out of eight games as well as the Liberty Invitational. An in-season tournament that was hosted by Liberty. They only lost to Valley on their eighth day back.

The team’s loss to Valley was their last loss for the rest of the regular season. The Bolts finished the regular season with a record of 24-2, winning the Cedar Rapids Prairie Tournament, Mississippi Valley Conference Quad Tournament, and 5A Regional 7 Tournament. 

We went into state with the nothing-to-lose mindset …We all thought that all the pressure was on Valley.”

— Mariah Rollins

At the end of the regular season, Liberty was ranked fifth in the 5A State Tournament. Their first matchup was on November 2 against the fourth seed, Valley, one of the only teams to have beaten the Bolts this year. 

“We went into state with the nothing-to-lose mindset,” said Rollins. “We all thought that all the pressure was on Valley.”

“We weren’t concerned about our numbers of wins and losses or seeding, just on what we could do to be at our best,” said Allie Kelly, assistant coach. “In some ways, it was nice to be the ‘underdog’ and fly under people’s radar a little bit.”

Liberty started out the State tournament slow, winning one out of the first two sets. After that, the Bolts really picked it up and won the next two sets by a combined 10 points, upsetting Valley and making it to the semi-finals.

Liberty’s next match was two days away against the first seed Dowling Catholic, the only

Sophomore Cassidy Hartman lead the Bolts in kills while senior Haley Hested garnered a whopping 476 assists. (Quincy Lohman)

other team to have beaten them this year, but the Bolts didn’t back down against the powerhouse from West Des Moines. They went

back and forth leading up to a tiebreaker in the fifth set that decided which team went on to the Championship match. Liberty secured a quick lead over Dowling Catholic and never looked back, beating the top team in the tournament and securing their place in the Championship. For the first time in Liberty History, one of our sports teams made it to the State Championship match. 

For the Championship match, Liberty was set to face Ankeny, the second seed school, on November 5. Ankeny started off hot and won the first two sets. Liberty tried to fight back by winning the next set but it wasn’t enough. They ended up falling to Ankeny one set to three and achieving runner-up at state.

After the match, Cassidy Hartman, sophomore, and Addie Schmierer, senior were selected to be apart of the All-State Tournament team after the final match, which is an honor awarded to the best seven girls in the tournament according to the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union.

“We are so proud of them. Championship losses are never easy, but the strides that we made as a program this year and that we have made over the last 4 years have been incredible,” Kelly said after the final match.