Three NCAA Div. III national titles
PELLA — The Central College volleyball team had a promising start to the second day of the Northland Athletic Conference Challenge Saturday, beating Marian University (Wis.) in three sets, but the team later slipped against Wis.-Lutheran ending the tournament 2-2.
Central (6-11 overall) topped Marian 26-24, 25-17, 25-17, but their early momentum dropped with Wis.-Lutheran defeating the Dutch 25-20, 25-23, 25-15.
Against Marian, junior setter Claire Stewart (junior, Colorado Springs, Colo., Classical Academy) had 17 assists and six digs. Freshman setter Madii Maddox (Tulsa, Okla., Bishop Kelley HS) contributed 10 assists and seven digs. Outside hitter Jessica Laflin (junior, Phoenix, Ariz., Horizon Honors) led the Dutch in kills with 11 and hit .364.
Middle hitter Hannah Welter (junior, Lincoln, Neb., Lincoln SW HS) had six terminations and outside hitter Sara Snead (junior, Altoona, Southeast Polk HS) had five kills and eight digs. Libero Tori Zempel (sophomore, La Porte City, Union Community HS) had 10 digs.
“The first match was smooth,” said coach Kent Clayberg. “Our offense and defense were moving well, and I thought we had turned a corner from last night, but in the second match we were back at square one.
“We were lethargic against Wis.-Lutheran,” he said. “We passed well in the first set, but we let down in the second and third and started to panic. We couldn’t get our offense running off our passes.”
In the second match up, Snead led the team with seven kills and six digs. Laflin followed with four kills. Stewart and Maddox had eight and seven assists, respectively. Dzenita Bahtic (junior, Urbandale) stepped in for libero and had 15 digs while Zempel had 10 digs.
“Jessica had strong offensive games and she is moving in the right direction to becoming a better player,” said Clayberg. “Maddi was moved into a more extensive role this weekend, and she played well. There are good things coming from Maddi.”
The Dutch hope to snag their first conference win Tuesday night against the University of Dubuque in Dubuque. Play begins at 7:30 p.m.