Three NCAA Div. III national titles
PELLA—The Central College volleyball team found its stride with a pair of victories at the Central Classic Friday night.
After coming up short Tuesday in their first Iowa Conference setback, the Dutch outlasted St. Catherine Univ. (Minn.) 25-21, 25-16, 27-25, 14-25, 25-12 and swept Bethel Univ. (Minn.) 28-26, 25-21, 29-27.
Against St. Catherine (13-5), middle hitter Kiley Meyers (senior, Grundy Center) hit a fiery .550 with 12 kills and recorded five blocks. Right-side hitter Caitlin Kouba (Dubuque, Wahlert HS) had seven kills. Setter Maggie Snyder (senior, Alexandria, Minn., Jefferson HS) distributed 21 assists and freshman Jill Schildroth (setter, Reinbeck, Gladbrook-Reinbeck HS) had 13. Libero Chelsea Grieger (senior, Pella) sprawled for 29 digs while Snyder had 14.
“Kiley established the tone in the first match,” coach Kent Clayberg said. “We came out very sharp but it was reminiscent of the Coe match in that we didn’t respond in later sets. But that’s the focal point of our weekend tournaments – getting better at our weaknesses.”
In the win over Bethel (11-6), Kouba had 11 kills while Meyers hit a match-high .571 and had eight kills. Outside hitter Natalie Mason (sophomore, Iowa City, West HS) and right-side hitter Liz Ihnen (sophomore, Sheldon) also had eight kills. Snyder logged 26 assists and Schildroth had 15. Grieger tallied another 29 digs while Golly had 14 and Snyder had 11.
“We had opportunities to fold and back down but the players stuck with it,” Clayberg said. “It was a good step forward for the team. We had lots of clutch individual moments but it was an entire team effort.”
Clayberg highlighted Grieger’s defensive effort.
“Chelsea was spectacular,” Clayberg said. “She basically shut down the left half of Bethel’s offense.”
Central (14-4) comes back at 11 a.m. Saturday against Loras College.
“Loras will be a good test for us,” Clayberg said. “They don’t have a traditional power in the middle but they have some outsides that can hit everything. That can be unsettling for a defense and take an offense out of its rhythm. It’ll be a very good challenge.”
Loras defeated St. Catherine 3-1 Friday to improve to 7-11 overall.