Three NCAA Div. III national titles
SAINT PETER, MINN. — Working on its offensive timing, the Central College volleyball team captured a four-set victory in splitting a pair of matches Friday at the Gustavus Adolphus (Minn.) Invitational.
The Dutch bested Bethany Lutheran College (Minn.) 25-13, 14-25, 25-23, 25-16 before falling to host Gustavus Adolphus 25-5, 25-20, 25-16.
“In the first match, we came out sharp and controlled the first set very well,” said coach Kent Clayberg. “But in the second set, we became nonchalant and choppy. We went on a run in the third and started seeing some of our offense take shape. We hit very well in the third and fourth set.”
Right-side hitter Emily Stoakes (sophomore, Gladbrook, Gladbrook-Reinbeck HS) had a team-high 10 kills with a .333 hitting percentage. Jessica Laflin (outside hitter, junior, Pheonix, Ariz., Horizon Honors HS) had nine kills and six digs and middle hitter Welter (junior, Lincoln, Neb., Lincoln SW HS) had eight kills. Setter Claire Stewart (junior, Colorado Springs, Colo., Classical Academy) had 35 assists and seven digs.
Libero Dzenita Bahtic (junior, Urbandale) sprawled for 15 digs and defensive specialist Tori Zempel (sophomore, La Porte City, Union Community HS) had seven.
Despite the comeback in the first match, the Dutch were unable to keep the momentum flowing into the second.
“We kept getting caught by surprise against Gustavus Adolphus,” said Clayberg. “It was a disappointing effort. We were playing a half step behind and didn’t rise to the occasion.”
Welter led the charge with eight kills and outside hitter Sara Snead (junior, Altoona, Southeast Polk HS) had six kills and six digs. Stewart tallied 18 assists. Zempel had 10 digs and Bahtic had nine.
“Sara had a strong offensive night, and Claire ran the offense well when she could, but we made it difficult for her since our serve receive passing wasn’t allowing us to run our offense as quickly as we like,” said Clayberg.
Clayberg hopes the team finds its competitive edge in tomorrow’s matches.
“We didn’t step up today, but tomorrow is a new day. We have to go find that competitive spirit,” he said.
Central (3-5) finishes the final day of the tournament Saturday. The Dutch play Wis.-River Falls at 9 a.m. and Minn.-Morris at 1 p.m.