West Branch swept past Cascade in the regional semifinals, 25-16, 25-11, 25-14 to end the Cougars’ season Oct. 31.
The Bears and Cougars were very familiar foes as the teams had not only already met three times, but all three of those meetings were in October.
Cascade won the first meeting, 2-0, at the Western Dubuque Tournament. Then just five days later, West Branch took their regular season River Valley Conference match, 3-2. At the River Valley Conference Tournament, the Cougars prevailed, 2-0, setting up the final meeting.
In the first game of the regional semifinals, the Cougars fell behind late after giving up several scores in a row, thus giving West Branch a nine-point first-game win.
Game two was an even more tough set for Cascade as the Cougars seemed not to be able to make plays that they have been making all season long, falling again, by a 14-point deficit.
During game three, there was a sense of urgency on the Cougars’ side, as they knew their chance of continuing in the regional tournament was fleeting. Cascade came out with intensity but saw the game shift completely in West Branch’s favor with an 11-point deficit.
Cascade’s leaders were: serving — Molly McElmeel 12-of-12, Ally Hoffman 8-of-9, Aliyah Weber 7-of-7, Abby Welter 6-of-7, Brooke Denniston and Jess Hoffman 4-of-4; kills — Welter eight, Isabelle Fransen and McElmeel four, Ally Hoffman and Lilly Trumm three, Jess Hoffman one; blocks — Jess Hoffman and Trumm one; digs — McElmeel 16, Jess Hoffman 14, Weber 11, Ally Hoffman 10, Denniston eight, Welter seven, Trumm three, Fransen two; assists — Jess Hoffman 21.