Three North Iowa Cedar League teams will be competing for state championships at the Iowa Girls High School State Volleyball Tournament Thursday.

One of the conference members is guaranteed to win the title. East Division rivals Dike-New Hartford and Denver battle for the Class 2A crown at 5:30 PM. Afterward, NICL West Division tri-champion Gladbrook-Reinbeck plays Burlington Notre Dame for the Class 1A crown at 8 PM.

Denver is a first-time state tournament qualifier and reached the final Wednesday by sweeping two-time defending champion Western Christian, which was playing in the tournament for a record 38th time. Set scores were 25-22, 25-20 and 25-20.

Kayla Knowles led the Cyclones with 16 kills. Teammate Allison Bonnette had a double-double, getting 10 kills and a team-high 12 digs. Libero Kate Clinton also recorded 12 digs, which led the team.

Denver’s victory ended Western Christian’s run of 12-straight appearances in the championship match. The Wolfpack have played in the final every year since 2009. Thursday, the Cyclones face a Dike-New Hartford squad that swept Denver in conference play on Sept. 15 and is seeking a 14th state title.

The Wolverines swept Wilton in Wednesday’s semifinal. Set scores were 25-17, 25-21 and 25-16.

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Peyton Petersen recorded a team-high 19 kills for Dike-New Hartford. Her twin sister Jadyn and Lexie Fager had 12 digs apiece. The Petersen twins are the daughters of UNI volleyball Head Coach Bobbi Petersen.

Gladbrook-Reinbeck advanced to the 1A title match by sweeping Council Bluffs St. Albert in a Wednesday night semifinal. Set scores were 25-20, 25-23 and 25-17.

Senior Saari Kuehl, who plans to play college volleyball at Southwest Minnesota State, recorded 21 digs and tallied 16 kills in the Rebels' victory. Entering the tournament, her 4.4 kills per-set average was the best among the Class 1A qualifiers.

Mahayla Olson had 13 kills and Ava Wyatt added 11 kills for Gladbrook-Reinbeck, which is playing in the state tournament for the second time in three years and only the third time in school history. The Rebels' only previous appearance in a championship match was in 1988, when they finished second in Class 1A. Head Coach Paula Kelly played for that runner-up squad.

A fourth northeast Iowa will also play for a title on Thursday. West Delaware takes on Cedar Rapids Xavier for the 4A title at 12:30 PM after sweeping Gilbert in Wednesday’s semifinal match. Set scores were 25-19, 25-13 and 25-16.

The Hawks, who are making their 13th state tournament appearance, reached the semifinals last year. Five starters from the 2019 squad are playing for West Delaware this year.

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