DES MOINES — The road to state won’t be easy for area volleyball teams, with teams finding out Friday what their routes will look like for sure when the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union unveiled regional brackets.
Clinton — and all the other area teams — will need to pull off an upset or two — or more — to qualify for the state tournament. Everyone has at least one ranked team in its regional.
The River Queens escaped tough Mississippi Athletic Conference matchups, drawing, instead, the No. 6 Regional in Dubuque. But should Clinton make it through its first-round home game against either Cedar Rapids Kennedy or Waterloo East, it will likely run up against No. 4-ranked Dubuque Hempstead in the region’s championship.
The Mustangs drew cross-town rival Dubuque Senior in their semifinal match. Both Clinton and Hempstead play at 7 p.m. on Oct. 31 in their respective matches.
“I think that they’re probably pretty fair,” Clinton coach Mark Massey said. “To get to state you’ve got to beat some good teams to get there. That certainly won’t be any different for us this year.”
Hempstead is 20-3, with one of those losses coming to No. 1 Bettendorf. The Bulldogs, also in the MAC, play in Region 8 with conference foes Davenport Central, Davenport West, Burlington and Muscatine. Elsewhere in the MAC, Class 5A, No. 8 Pleasant Valley drew Region 7, shared with No. 9 ranked Iowa City West.
“The constants are, respect your opponent, bring the best that you can, but don’t be afraid of them,” Massey said. “If people have a mindset that they’re going to open up the brackets and get a Christmas gift, then going to state wouldn’t mean much. Every year Clinton’s gone to state, we’ve had to beat teams that have had excellent seasons and in some cases were favorites.
“We certainly know we’re capable of playing some pretty good volleyball.”
As for area teams in other classes:
• Prince of Peace, Easton Valley and Marquette Catholic all are bunched together at the top of the Class 1A Region 7 bracket, while Calamus-Wheatland is in the bottom half.
The Irish will play host to Easton Valley in a first-round match at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 22, with the winner playing at Marquette Catholic the following Tuesday. The top half of the 14-team bracket includes No. 9 Lisbon.
Calamus-Wheatland opens with a home match against Rivermont Collegiate at 7 p.m. Oct. 22. The Warriors’ half of the bracket includes fourth-ranked New London.
• In Class 3A, Camanche will square off against Tipton on the road on Oct. 28 for Round 1 of Region 8. Should the Indians win, they’ll run up against a team they lost to earlier this season — either West Liberty, or No. 7-ranked Mount Vernon.
However, if they make it through their half of the bracket, the championship game offers one concession: The highest-ranked team on the other side, Mediapolis, lost twice to the Indians in September.
The Northeast Rebels will have to fight through two top-15 teams in their regional. They’ll face Monticello on Oct. 28 at home before taking on the winner of Vinton-Shellsburg and No. 13 Center Point-Urbana. On the other side of the Region 7 bracket, No. 10 Independence matches up against Waterloo Columbus, Dyersville Beckman and Anamosa.
• In Class 4A, WaMaC rivals Maquoketa and Central DeWitt square off on Monday, Oct. 28, in DeWitt in Region 6. The winner will play No. 7 Cedar Rapids Xavier with a regional final leading to Dyersville Beckman. No. 4-ranked West Delaware is on the other half of the bracket with Western Dubuque and Dubuque Wahlert.
• Bellevue, the lone Class 2A school, is in Region 7 and will face host Cascade at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 22, in the first round. Bellevue’s half of the 12-team bracket includes No. 14 Wapsie Valley, while third-ranked Sumner-Fredericksburg is on the other side.