Three NCAA Div. III national titles
DECATUR, ILL.—Despite middle hitter Kari Sandage (junior, Atlantic) leading the Central College volleyball team attack with a .692 hitting percentage for the day, the Dutch lost to Millikin University (Ill.) before defeating Benedictine University (Ill.) Saturday afternoon.
Central started strong against Millikin, but lost previous momentum in the final set and fell to the Big Blue (18-8) 28-26, 25-22, 25-13. Central (8-18) rolled into the second match ready to play and topped Benedictine (2-19) in three sets, 25-12, 27-25, 26-24.
“All in all, it was a good day,” said coach Kent Clayberg. “At times we played with a very nice rhythm and our defense and offense were moving very well. At other times we were a little choppy. Although we lost our first match, the stats were nearly identical in both matches. It just played out differently against Benedictine.”
Against Millikin, outside hitter Nicole Ewoldt (freshman, Hull, Boyden Hull HS) had a team-high nine kills and 14 digs. Sandage had six kills, hitting .600 percent and two blocks, one solo. Middle hitter Shantell Gish (junior, Cedar Rapids, Prairie HS) and outside hitter Sara Snead (junior, Altoona, Southeast Polk HS) each recorded six kills, as well.
Setter Claire Stewart (junior, Colorado Springs, Colo., Classical Academy) totaled 27 assists while setter Madii Maddox (freshman, Tulsa, Okla., Bishop Kelley HS) had six assists. Libero Dzenita Bahtic (junior, Urbandale) had 24 digs.
“Kari had a very efficient day,” Clayberg said. “She brought a nice presence to the front row.”
In the second match, Gish led the Dutch attack with 10 kills. Right-side hitter Emily Stoakes (sophomore, Gladbrook, Gladbrook-Reinbeck HS) followed closely with nine kills, hitting .500 percent and had one solo block. Snead had five kills. Middle hitter Hannah Welter (junior, Lincoln, Neb., Lincoln SW HS) had two solo blocks.Stewart tallied 14 assists and Maddox had 13 assists. Maddox also had three service aces. Bahtic sprawled for 26 digs and Ewoldt had 10 digs. Defensive specialist Tori Zempel (sophomore, La Porte City, Union Community HS) had nine digs.
“Dzenita was good on the defensive side,” said Clayberg. “She brought an element of control when we were playing choppy.”
The Dutch have little time to recover before playing conference rival Luther College (13-16 overall, 2-3 conference) Tuesday at the P.H. Kuyper Gymnasium at 7:30 p.m. in the team’s last home match of the season.
“We are looking forward to the conference match next week,” Clayberg said. “I feel like we will be in a good mental place as a team.”