Three NCAA Div. III national titles
PELLA — A slow offensive start hindered the Central volleyball team as the squad fell in five sets to William Penn Tuesday night, 25-22, 25-18, 18-25, 22-25, 15-13.
The Dutch (2-4) struggled to run their offense in the first two sets, hitting .056 and .122, respectively.
“There are skills every team has to develop,” said coach Kent Clayberg. “Physical, mental and emotional skills, but how to compete is also a skill and that is the one we didn’t do well tonight.”
Although Central outhit William Penn (6-7) in every set, the Dutch had a difficult time finishing the point as the Statesmen had 98 team digs to Central’s 77.
Junior setter Claire Stewart (junior, Colorado Springs, Colo., Classical Academy) marked 41 assists and nine digs. Middle hitter Hannah Welter (junior, Lincoln, Neb., Lincoln SW HS) fired 15 kills in 33 attempts, hitting a team-high .424. Right-side hitter Emily Stoakes (sophomore, Gladbrook, Gladbrook-Reinbeck HS) terminated 13 hits, tallying a .333 hitting percentage and stuck four blocks, including two solos. Outside hitter Jessica Laflin (junior, Phoenix, Ariz., Horizon Honors) had seven kills.
“Emily played a nice game,” said Clayberg. “She was a big presence on the right-side lane. And Claire did a nice job running the offense. She led the team well.”
Libero Tori Zempel (sophomore, La Porte City, Union Community HS) had a team-high 23 digs and Dzenita Bahtic (junior, Urbandale), stepping in as libero in the final three sets, had 14 digs.
“Dzenita brought great energy to a team that was flat,” Clayberg said. “She played very well and had outstanding communication on the court.”
The Dutch hope to bring the spark back this weekend at the Gustavus Adolphus Invitational in Saint Peter, Minn. Central plays Bethany Lutheran (Minn.) at 5 p.m. and host Gustavus Adolphus at 7 p.m.
“Tonight was a frustrating night for the entire team,” said Clayberg. “It was simply an issue of the team having faith in themselves and each other. But, if competing is a skill, we can get better, and when we do our fortunes will change.
“Every match is a lesson,” he said. “The hope is that the lessons struck home and that we will be a better team.”