Three NCAA Div. III national titles
GRINNELL— Central College ended a six-game losing streak with a pair of encouraging volleyball victories Saturday at the Grinnell College Invitational.
The Dutch swept Rockford College (Ill.) 25-18, 25-15, 25-18, then outlasted Grinnell in a 23-25, 25-20, 26-28, 25-20, 15-12 victory. Setter Claire Stewart (sophomore, Colorado Springs, Colo., Classical Academy) received all-tournament team recognition and the Dutch improved to 3-10.
“They're two good wins that we needed,” coach Kent Clayberg said. “We learned to come through at crunch time and we took some good steps in the right direction.”
Right-side hitter Sam Retz (senior, Atkins, Benton Community HS) led the Dutch with nine kills against Rockford (3-11). Middle hitter Ashley Pedersen (senior, Humboldt) followed with seven. Holly Osborn (senior, Arvada, Colo., Saint Mary’s Academy), who moved from middle hitter to right-side as the Dutch deal with some injures, hit .500 with five kills. Stewart had 27 assists and libero Tori Zempel (freshman, La Porte City, Union Community HS) dug 15 balls.
Central used a balanced attack against Grinnell (2-14) with four hitters tallying double-digit kills. Pedersen and middle hitter Hannah Welter (sophomore, Lincoln, Neb., Lincoln SW HS) had 11 apiece and outside hitters Tess Reinig (senior, Manchester, West Delaware HS) and Jessica Laflin (sophomore, Phoenix, Ariz., Horizon Honors HS) each had 10 kills. Stewart tallied 46 assists and Zempel had 17 digs.
“We used a few different lineups today but our middles did a very nice job in both matches,” Clayberg said. “Our outsides started getting more aggressive in their swings and Tori was rock-solid again.
“Hopefully we can build on the things we did well today and take them into our next match Tuesday night and get our first conference win.”
Central tackles the University of Dubuque at 7:30 p.m. at P.H. Kuyper Gymnasium. The Spartans are 7-5 overall and 1-1 in Iowa Conference action. The Dutch lead the all-time series 45-16.