By John Naughton, The Des Moines Register
Ankeny’s split into two public high schools in 2013 created concern about the community’s volleyball future.
After all, the Ankeny Hawkette program had reached the state tournament 11 straight times and earned four state championships.
The simple answer: Ankeny now has two volleyball powerhouses, not one.
At this week’s state tournament, Ankeny High and Centennial will bring their first seniors who have spent all four years playing at different high schools. Both teams reached the Class 5A tournament. Play starts at noon Tuesday at the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids.
“Ankeny in the past years has been great in volleyball, even after the split,” Ankeny outside hitter Alyssa Ballenger said.
In the four-year span of two high schools, Centennial has reached state all four years and won back-to-back titles entering this season. Ankeny has qualified three times, too.
The community has continued to embrace the sport.
Don’t be surprised to see some back-and-forth trash talking on social media.
“There’s been a little tension,” Centennial libero Kylee Macke said. “People are saying stuff.”
Ankeny doubled its volleyball prowess with a process that started well before the split.
Coach Dave Whims, who led Ankeny through the 2014 season, worked hard to help develop talent that would feed into both programs. Administrators built two new school buildings — Centennial to the north and Ankeny to the south — that were identical down to the same floor plans.
Jessica Rinehart was hired as Centennial’s coach and has compiled a 148-20 record in four seasons and is ranked No. 2 behind Cedar Falls. Joe Morton, who is in his second season at Ankeny, has a 62-20 in two years. The Hawkettes are No. 5.
To the players, the years have spun by like a hard serve.
“It feels like yesterday, we were playing tournaments,” Macke said.
There’s some rivalry, yes, but that will happen in a community where both teams are so strong.
“It’s huge competition between our two schools in every sport,” Ankeny’s Ballenger said.
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Four state champions will try to continue a title run this week.
Centennial has won the last two crowns in 5A. The Jaguars open with a quarterfinal against Iowa City West at noon Tuesday.
Last year’s 3A winner, Nevada, has moved up to 4A. The Cubs (probably a good time for that nickname) face No. 1-ranked Pella at 4 p.m. in a quarterfinal.
Western Christian of Hull aims for a second consecutive 2A championship. The Wolfpack open with Grundy Center at 2 p.m. Wednesday.
Class 1A defending champ Janesville will try to win again. The program won crowns in 2013 and 2015.
The only winner not to return was West Delaware of Manchester. The team, which won 4A last fall, fell to Osage in a 3A regional final.
Madi Kubik of West Des Moines Valley is just a sophomore, but has already set her sights high when it comes to college. Kubik, a 6-foot-1 outside hitter, said she plans to play at Nebraska.
Nebraska won last year’s NCAA tournament. The current roster includes Mikaela Foecke, a sophomore from Fort Madison Holy Trinity.
Matt Johnson led Charles City to a state title in 2012 in 4A.
He’s helped Cedar Falls to back-to-back state tournament appearances since then.
Cedar Falls is ranked No. 1 in Class 5A with a 38-3 record.
All but two of the Register’s Super 10 All-Class Ranked teams reached the state tournament.
No. 1 Cedar Falls, No. 2 Ankeny Centennial, No. 3 Valley and No. 4 Ankeny all qualified in 5A. Fifth-ranked Western Christian (2A) and No. 6 Dike-New Hartford (3A) also made the cut, as did No. 8 Sumner-Fredericksburg (2A) and No. 9 Carroll Kuemper (3A).
The only ranked teams to fall short of state were No. 7 West Delaware and No. 10 Lake Mills.
The Register is partnering with Central Iowa Sports Network to bring you live video from the state volleyball tournament. The live streams will be available throughout the week at DesMoinesRegister.com.
State volleyball tournament schedule
At Cedar Rapids, U.S. Cellular Center
10 a.m.: Union (LaPorte City) (38-4) vs. Osage (23-11)
10 a.m.: Dike-New Hartford (45-5) vs. North Polk (37-9)
Noon: Mount Vernon (33-7) vs. Sioux Center (34-4)
Noon: Carroll Kuemper (28-1) vs. Davenport Assumption (28-8)
2 p.m.: Western Christian (Hull) (38-6) vs. Grundy Center (25-16)
2 p.m.: Unity Christian (Orange City) (34-4) vs. Mediapolis (33-7)
4 p.m.: Central Lyon (30-4) vs. C.B. St. Albert (26-4)
4 p.m.: Sumner-Fredericksburg (33-5) vs. Waterloo Columbus (27-13)
6 p.m.: Janesville (32-8) vs. Starmont (Arlington) (32-8)
6 p.m.: Hudson (33-4) vs. Lawton-Bronson (33-7)
8 p.m.: Fort Madison Holy Trinity (35-3) vs. Sidney (33-3)
8 p.m.: Audubon (27-6) vs. Springville (28-7)
10 a.m.: Class 5A
Noon: Class 4A
2 p.m.: Class 3A
4 p.m.: Class 2A
6 p.m.: Class 1A
10 a.m.: Class 5A
12:15 p.m.: Class 4A
2:30 p.m.: Class 3A
4:45 p.m.: Class 2A
7 p.m.: Class 1A
Provided by The Des Moines Register: By John Naughton , firstname.lastname@example.org