Three NCAA Div. III national titles
ST. LOUIS, MO.—Working to find a consistent rhythm, Central College split a pair of volleyball matches at the Washington University-St. Louis (Mo.) Bears Classic Friday, outlasting Westminster College (Mo.) 3-2 before falling to top-ranked Washington, 3-0.
Central (5-12) won three straight sets for a comeback 23-25, 10-25, 25-23, 25-21, 17-15 victory against Westminster (6-10). The Dutch were swept 25-12, 25-18, 25-12 by No. 1 Washington (19-1).
Outside hitter Tess Reinig (senior, Manchester, West Delaware HS) led the Dutch with 12 kills in the tourney opener. Middle hitter Ashley Pedersen (senior, Humboldt) had nine while outside hitter Sara Snead (sophomore, Altoona, Southeast Polk HS) and middle hitter Hannah Welter (sophomore, Lincoln, Neb., Southwest HS) had eight apiece.
Setter Claire Stewart (sophomore, Colorado Springs, Colo., Classical Academy) had 43 assists and 11 digs for her third double-double of the season. Libero Tori Zempel (freshman, La Porte City, Union Community HS) had 24 digs while defensive specialist Emily Eberhardt (sophomore, Sperry, Mediapolis HS) had 13.
The Dutch rebounded after a sluggish start.
“We took a collective step backwards in the first match, starting slow and not responding the way we would have liked,” coach Kent Clayberg said. “We put ourselves in a pretty bad spot and it was difficult to find positive things other than getting a few clutch kills in the later sets and the defense improving. But we felt much better about the way we played in the second match.”
Against the Bears, Reinig, Welter and Pedersen each had five kills. Right-side hitter Liz Ihnen (junior, Sheldon) had .429 hitting percentage with three kills.
“Liz was very efficient today in both matches,” Clayberg said.
Stewart had 14 assists and six digs. Zempel and Eberhardt also dug six balls.
“We played at a much faster rhythm,” Clayberg said. “We have to play at the speed of the game rather than a half step behind.
“The game gets very simple—in a moment of time you have to be at the right place at the right position and if you aren’t, things aren’t going to go well. We didn’t have enough good moments in a row, but we saw some moments in the second match.”
The Dutch come right back Saturday, meeting Monmouth College (Ill.) (13-6) at 10 a.m. and Knox College (Ill.) (2-19) at 12:15 p.m.
“Tomorrow’s another opportunity,” Clayberg said. “We need to find the energy and aggressiveness to compete. We're going to have to break teams down instead of waiting for them to screw up”