When they take the court on Wednesday, it will be three years and one day since Stanton and Le Mars Gehlen competed on the floor of the U.S. Cellular Center in back-to-back Class 1-A state volleyball semifinals.
First, Gehlen lost to eventual champion Tripoli in five sets. Then, Stanton saw its hopes of reaching the state finals fall short in a four-set setback to Janesville.
The event then moved to the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena for two years, as the longtime home of the volleyball tournament underwent a facelift. And now, only one athlete from either the Viqueens or Lady Jays will walk out Wednesday with experience at the U.S. Cellular Center: Stanton senior Carmen Subbert.
Subbert will lead sixth-rated Stanton (37-5) into Wednesday’s 4 p.m. 1-A quarterfinal against No. 5 Gehlen (23-11). It will be Stanton’s — and Subbert’s — fourth straight state appearance, and Gehlen’s fifth. Both are seeking their first state title.
All eyes will be on the dynamic 5-foot-7 Subbert. She had 12 kills in each of her state matches as a freshman, added a team-high 11 in a first-round loss at state as a sophomore, and then led the team last year with 12 in a quarterfinal loss to Janesville.
This season, Subbert ranks fourth in 1-A with 4.58 kills per set, with a .477 hitting efficiency.
“Carmen’s a very patient player,’’ Stanton coach Jody Druivenga said. “She’s very even-keeled, no matter what is going on out there on the court. And I think the girls feed off of that. They get their calmness from her. And they don’t get overly anxious when we’re five points down, because she’s not getting overly anxious. She’s saying, ‘Guys we’ve got it.’”
Other top hitting threats are senior Erin Dekay (1.59 kills per set) and junior Heidi Vanderholm (1.43). Junior Haley Weis leads with 66 aces, and helped rally her team from a 21-14 opening-set deficit in the regional final win over Murray. Senior setter Macy Elwood (4.69 assists per set) is another steady force.
“They’re a very patient bunch of kids,’’ Druivenga said. “They’re very level-headed. And I like that about them. Different things haven’t bothered them.’’
Four starters return for Gehlen, which lost in the 1-A quarterfinals to Tripoli last year. The Lady Jays have compiled a 62-1 regular-season record against 1-A opponents since 2009.
Gehlen has fared well against a variety of schools. But Stanton beefed up its schedule as well.
It’s all about getting to Cedar Rapids as tested as possible.