Three NCAA Div. III national titles
COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO. — After dropping the first two sets of the season-opening match, the Central College volleyball team rallied to overcome Pacific University (Ore.) in five sets before dropping its second match to No. 17 Colorado College at the Molten Colorado College Invitational.
The Dutch defeated Pacific (0-1) 16-25, 23-25, 25-23, 25-21, 15-10 and lost to Colorado 25-9, 25-15, 25-12. Hitting just minus .030 against Pacific in the first set, the Boxers shut down Central’s offense. The Dutch regrouped and recorded a steamy .318 hitting percentage in the final set.
“We came out so tight,” said coach Kent Clayberg. “We had a hard time getting our offense on track. But it felt like it was going to come to us and between the first and second sets our hitting efficiency jumped almost 200 points. We settled down and played volleyball. It was a good step in the right direction.”
Outside hitter Jessica Laflin (junior, Phoenix, Ariz., Horizon Honors) had 14 kills and two blocks. Middle hitter Hannah Welter (junior, Lincoln, Neb., Lincoln SW HS) tallied 10 kills and seven blocks, including three solos. Outside hitter Sara Snead (junior, Altoona, Southeast Polk HS) had nine kills and 16 digs. Setters Claire Stewart (junior, Colorado Springs, Colo., Classical Academy) and Jill Schildroth (setter, Reinbeck, Gladbrook-Reinbeck HS) had 24 and 17 assists, respectively. Stewart also sprawled for 13 digs. Libero Tori Zempel (sophomore, La Porte City, Union Community HS) had a team-high 22 digs and defensive specialist Dzenita Bahtic (junior, Urbandale) had 16 digs.
While playing Colorado College, Central struggled to maintain the same focus, hitting negative in all three sets.
“Even during warm-ups against Colorado College we were on our heels,” Clayberg said. “They were aggressive and a very good team. That’s the level we need to play at.”
Snead had a team-high five kills and right-side hitter Emily Stoakes (sophomore, Gladbrook, Gladbrook-Reinbeck HS) followed with four kills. Bahtic had 15 digs and Zempel recorded eight. Stewart had nine assists and seven digs.
“Dzenita played aggressively,” said Clayberg. “She was very active around the court. Tori also did very well defensively. Claire was in front of her home crowd and did a nice job running the offense.”
Central (1-1) completes tournament play Saturday, meeting Augsburg College (Minn.) 10 a.m. and University of Mass.-Boston at noon. “The team understands that we need to move more boldly, more aggressively,” said Clayberg. “We hope to go into tomorrow’s matches with that attitude.”