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Hovenga high fives

Freshman Hope Hovenga high fives her teammates during Janesville’s regional final win on Nov. 5 in Clarksville.

Though it will take place over an hour away, Wednesday’s first round of the Class 1A state volleyball tournament will bring a matchup between two area teams: Janesville (33-11) and Wapsie Valley (23-15).

After winning their respective regional tournaments last week, the Wildcats and Warriors — two teams separated by just 19 miles — will clash in the quarterfinals at 8 p.m. Wednesday at the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids.

“This is a very exciting time of the year, and the team is looking forward to the experience at state,” Janesville coach Shelly Sorensen said. “It’s not unusual to play a team from our area at the state tournament, as area teams have represented Class 1A for several years.”

It will be the second time the two schools will have faced off, as Janesville defeated Wapsie Valley 2-1 back on Oct. 5 at Charles City High School.

“The match vs. Wapsie Valley was a great battle for both teams,” Sorensen said. “They are a very strong team offensively, and they are very scrappy on defense. Both teams have adjusted their line-ups since that day, so it should be another great match-up.”

The Wildcats are led by heavy-hitting seniors Julia Meister and Baily Hoff, who have combined for 602 kills this season. Junior Marra Fitzgerald is third on the team with 178 kills, while junior Pyper McCarville has 166 kills of her own.

Junior Gabby Gergen leads the team with 939 assists.

Since losing two matches to Charles City and Osage on Oct. 14, the No. 3 Wildcats have yet to stumble, winning five straight matches, including the two that came in the Region 5 tournament.

Janesville swept each of Clarksville, North Butler, and Gladbrook-Reinbeck to win the regional tournament and advance to state for the 10th straight year, and the Wildcats have won 13 straight sets.

“The team’s focus is to keep practicing on the fundamentals and trying to improve each day, as has been the focus all season,” Sorensen said.

Meanwhile, the sixth-ranked Warriors, led by head coach Heather Robinson, have won three straight matches and defeated Tripoli 3-1 in the Region 6 tournament.

After losing to Grundy Center in last year’s regional tournament, Wapsie Valley has entered the state tournament as the six seed.

The Warriors are led by sophomore Lydia Imbrogno, who has a team-leading 359 kills on the year. Freshman Kalvyn has 223 kills, and sophomore Becca Platte and senior Kaci Beesecker both have over 100 each.

Beesecker leads the team with a 746 assists this season.

The winner of Wednesday’s match will advance to the state semifinals and face the winner of No. 2 Council Bluffs St. Albert (24-9) and No. 7 Holy Trinity Catholic (28-10).