Three NCAA Div. III national titles
ST. LOUIS, MO.—Central College cruised to a pair of non-conference volleyball wins at the Washington University (Mo.) Bears Classic Saturday, defeating Monmouth College (Ill.) 20-25, 25-19, 25-17, 25-18 before sweeping Knox College (Ill.) 25-13, 25-17, 25-21.
The Dutch closed the tourney with a 3-1 mark, falling only to No. 1-ranked Washington, and improved to 7-12 overall.
Against Monmouth, outside hitter Tess Reinig (senior, Manchester, West Delaware HS) had nine kills. Right-side hitter Liz Ihnen (junior, Sheldon) had eight kills and right-side hitter Jessica Laflin (sophomore, Phoenix, Ariz., Horizon Honors HS) and outside hitter Sara Snead (sophomore, Altoona, Southeast Polk HS) each had seven.
Setter Claire Stewart (sophomore, Colorado Springs, Colo., Classical Academy) notched 21 assists and Jill Schildroth (sophomore, Reinbeck, Gladbrook-Reinbeck HS) had 16. Libero Tori Zempel (freshman, La Porte City, Union Community HS) had 18 digs and defensive specialist Emily Eberhardt (sophomore, Sperry, Mediapolis HS) had eight digs and three ace serves.
The Dutch raced to a 9-2 lead in the first set, but hit a rough patch as the Fighting Scots (13-7) rallied to a 15-13 advantage.
“We came out fast but had a snag in the middle of the game,” coach Kent Clayberg said. “We weren’t sure at that point if we were going to come back and compete, but we took a collective breath and played very good volleyball the rest of the match.
“Our block was much better which made the defense much better which made our transition offense much better.”
That momentum carried into the Knox (2-21) match and the Dutch were able to empty the bench.
“It was a good opportunity for players who don’t typically get much playing time,” Clayberg said. “They came in and did well.”
Snead led Central with seven kills and middle hitter Kari Sandage (sophomore, Atlantic) followed with six. Defensive specialists Emily Huegel (senior, Bettendorf, Pleasant Valley HS) and Lindsey Von Gillern (senior, Omaha, Neb., Millard North HS) had three ace serves apiece. Stewart and Schildroth both had 15 assists and Stewart added six digs. Zempel has 12 digs.
“Claire set a nice match and Jill continues to get better after her ankle injury,” Clayberg said.
Laflin, who moved from outside to right-side hitter, finished the day with eight blocks, including three solo stops, and hit .333.
“Jessica’s blocking was spectacular,” Clayberg said. “She has great awareness and presence in the right-side block and she is versatile in her attack. She’s reactive and positions herself well and can make a strong swing out of nothing.”
Central returns to Iowa Conference action Tuesday, making the trek to Storm Lake to meet Buena Vista University at 7:30 p.m. The Beavers are 4-15 overall with a 0-4 league record heading into a non-conference tournament Saturday. Central has a 44-0 advantage in the all-time series, which began in 1979.