Three NCAA Div. III national titles
PELLA— Right-side hitter Liz Ihnen (junior, Sheldon) pounded a career-high 17 kills but 18th-ranked Wartburg College rallied from a 1-0 deficit to defeat the Central College volleyball team 20-25, 25-19, 26-24, 25-17 Tuesday night in Pella.
Ihnen posted a sizzling .484, committing just two errors. She also had four blocks.
“Liz was spectacular,” coach Kent Clayberg said. “And it wasn’t just power, she was very tactical and kept Wartburg off balance. She can be a real force.”
The Dutch (1-8 overall, 0-1 conference) outhit Wartburg, the Iowa Conference preseason favorite, in the first two sets and limited the Knights (8-1 overall, 1-0 conference) to hitting .148 on the night.
“With a young team I thought we competed really well and took the game plan and executed it really well 90 percent of the time,” Clayberg said. “It’s just the points in-between that get us—the free ball we overpass or the roll shot that kind of catches us by surprise and takes us out of system.
“We don’t have to win 100 percent of those points but if we can contest 100 percent of them we’ll have a better shot to earn some of those gimme points rather than give them away. And in a close game like tonight with a good team, those gimme points can be a difference maker.”
Middle hitter Ashley Pedersen (senior, Humboldt) had eight kills while outside hitter Jessica Laflin (sophomore, Phoenix, Ariz., Horizon Honors HS) and middle hitter Holly Osborn (senior, Arvada, Colo., Saint Mary’s Academy) both had six kills. Osborn put up a career-best eight blocks.
Libero Tori Zempel (freshman, La Porte City, Union Community HS) had 16 digs while defensive specialists Emily Eberhardt (sophomore, Sperry, Mediapolis HS) and Lindsey Von Gillern (senior, Omaha, Neb., Millard North HS) had 14 and 12, respectively. Setter Claire Stewart (sophomore, Colorado Springs, Colo., Classical Academy) tallied 38 assists.
Central has the weekend off before traveling to Cedar Rapids Sept. 18, meeting Coe College at 7:30 p.m.
“What we’ve seen with this team is that every match the players have identified things and gotten better at things,” Clayberg said. “This team is going to keep getting better and better.”