Three NCAA Div. III national titles
DECORAH—Luther College rallied in the last five points of two sets, overwhelming the Central College volleyball team 25-13, 26-24, 26-24 in Iowa Conference action Monday night.
The victory secured the Norse a berth in the six-team postseason league tournament. The Dutch, who have also locked up a spot, will vie for the fifth-place seed Tuesday, when Loras College visits Pella for the regular-season finale at 7:30 p.m.
At Luther, Central struggled to shut the door on the Norse. The Dutch were down 4-1 in the second set but battled back to a 16-14 lead. Central turned it into a 23-19 advantage but let the Norse back in for the win. In the third set, the squads were tied at 20-20. The Dutch inched ahead and were serving match point at 24-23, but a missed serve and Luther ace gave the momentum and eventual match to Luther.
“It’s not the night we planned,” coach Kent Clayberg said. “We had opportunities and we failed to seize those opportunities. It was disappointing from a competitive standpoint.”
Middle hitter Hannah Welter (sophomore, Lincoln, Neb., Southwest HS) led Central with six kills and two blocks. Right-side hitter Sam Retz (senior, Atkins, Benton Community HS) and outside hitters Tess Reinig (senior, Manchester, West Delaware HS) and Sara Snead (sophomore, Altoona, Southeast Polk HS) followed with five kills each.
Setter Jill Schildroth (sophomore, Reinbeck, Gladbrook-Reinbeck HS) tallied 16 assists. Setter Claire Stewart (sophomore, Colorado Springs, Colo., Classical Academy HS) had 13 assists and seven digs. Libero Tori Zempel (freshman, La Porte City, Union Community HS) dug 13 balls.
The Norse (13-16 overall, 2-4 conference) outhit the Dutch .233 to .169. Central (8-15 overall, 2-4 conference) served seven aces, but committed 10 serving errors.
“All we can do now is get on the bus, head back to Pella and take care of business tomorrow night,” Clayberg said. “Loras is a good team and we’re going to have to play well.”
The Duhawks are 14-16 overall with a 4-2 league record. Central topped Loras three times last season, including its season-ending loss in tournament action. The Duhawks won the regular-season matchup in a five-set nail biter. Central holds a 25-10 lead in the all-time series.
Tournament seeding—Loras has secured the No. 3 seed and the University of Dubuque is No. 4. Wartburg College and Coe College, both 6-0 in conference competition, square off for the conference title and No. 1 seed Wednesday night in Cedar Rapids. Buena Vista University and Simpson College are out of tourney contention, leaving Luther and Central battling for the fifth and sixth-place seeds. Luther takes on Buena Vista Tuesday at Storm Lake. The conference tournament begins Oct. 30.