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Down 2-0, Charles City rallies for state volleyball title

Jeff Linder, CR Gazette –

CEDAR RAPIDS — Maybe they were genuine. Maybe they were somewhat forced.

But the Solon Spartans were able to muster smiles for the postmatch photo with their runner-up trophy.

“It’s a bad feeling now, but tomorrow we’ll be OK,” Kelsey Hinrichs said.

Top-ranked Charles City rallied from a two-set deficit and outlasted No. 6 Solon, 16-25, 18-25, 25-14, 25-23, 15-13, to win the Class 4A state volleyball championship Saturday afternoon at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena.

The Comets (45-1) closed the season with 28 straight victories. This one was anything but easy.

“We had to pick everyone up,” said Jessie Sindlinger, the Comets’ star and the all-tournament captain. “I said, ‘We can do this. It will happen if we believe in ourselves.’ ”

Charles City rambled through the third game, then rallied from a 23-22 deficit in the fourth and emerged from a 13-all tie in the fifth.

Sindlinger’s kill gave the Comets match point, then Cady Wendel ended it with a block.

“They played well and came back,” said Solon Coach Peter Gustin. “That’s what good teams do. But we gave them a heck of a run for their money.”

Solon (33-5) defeated No. 3 Harlan in the quarterfinals and No. 2 Sioux City Heelan in the semis, and nearly made it a hat trick.

“It’s not a fluke that we got here,” Gustin said. “We just didn’t quite finish the job.”

Solon’s Kelsey Cave said, “We came out and we really wanted it. I think (the first two games) were a wakeup call for Charles City. They started running a faster offense that went to their advantage.”

The Spartans were very, very good in the first two games. They shot to an 11-4 lead in Game 1 and didn’t allow Charles City to make a dent. In the second game, the Spartans pulled away midway through.

Then the Comets matched Solon’s intensity the rest of the way.

Neither team led by more than three points in Game 4. Back-to-back kills by Jordan Smith gave Solon a shot at victory at 23-22, but Sindlinger sandwiched a kill and an ace around Jackie Foster’s block, forcing a fifth game.

Solon led 6-3, Charles City answered with four straight points, and it was back and forth the rest of the way.

The Spartans’ final lead was at 9-8, then they forged deadlocks at 10, 11 and 13.

Smith, a sophomore, led the Spartans 22 kills. Cave added 13, Hinrichs 12, Jordan Runge 10. Emma Rickels had 49 assists.

Sindlinger, who will play golf at the University of Iowa, paced Charles City with 16 kills.

She was joined on the all-tournament team by Comets setter Hali Hillegas (52 assists), Cave and Solon libero Rylee Smith (20 digs), plus Lauren Brobst of Sioux City Heelan and Abby Caldwell of Waverly-Shell Rock.

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