CEDAR RAPIDS If Tripoli is going to lose out on a state championship match, a team will have to rip the trophy out of its hands.
The Panthers had been there before and knew what they were doing and made sure top-ranked Grundy Center knew it from the opening serve.
Third-ranked Tripoli jumped out to a blazing start, and it was too much for the Spartans to handle as the Panthers completed their fifth consecutive Class 1A state championship run with a 25-21, 25-22, 17-25, 18-25 victory at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena.
"Tripoli is confident in what they are doing, and it can be tough sometimes," Grundy Center coach Darwin Sents said. "They have great ball control and I think that was the difference tonight. We got off to a slow start and just got going too late."
It was the third straight heartbreaking end to a volleyball season for the Spartans, who came up short of that elusive state title for the third straight season.
Grundy Center (35-7) lost in the Class 2A semifinals the past two seasons before reaching the Class 1A title match this year but still fell short of the ultimate prize.
"They are very disappointed," Sents said. "But it was a good season. This will hurt for a while and time will help us heal. It would have been great to get the win, but it didn't work out for us."
Seniors Sam Meyers and Heather Hook both earned spots on the all-tournament team as did Tripoli's Courtney Anderson and captain Bailey Kirchhoff.