Three NCAA Div. III national titles
BLOOMINGTON, ILL.—Central College struggled with consistency Saturday, closing the Illinois Wesleyan Barker Classic 3 volleyball tournament with a pair of loses. The Dutch fell to Carthage College (Wis.) 25-17, 25-18, 25-22, then were swept by Illinois Wesleyan, 25-20, 27-25, 25-23.
Against Carthage (23-11), right-side hitter Sam Retz (senior, Atkins, Benton Community HS) and outside hitter Sara Snead (sophomore, Altoona, Southeast Polk HS) had five kills apiece. Setter Jill Schildroth (sophomore, Reinbeck, Gladbrook-Reinbeck HS) tallied 17 assists and nine digs. Libero Tori Zempel (freshman, La Porte City, Union Community HS) had 11 digs.
“Our first contact was terrible,” coach Kent Clayberg said. “We found it hard to score points and we couldn’t play as powerfully as we wanted because we were on our heels and out of rhythm.”
Middle hitter Hannah Welter (sophomore, Lincoln, Neb. Southwest HS) led the Dutch against Illinois Wesleyan (18-13), hitting a scorching .500 with nine kills. Middle hitter Ashley Pedersen (senior, Humboldt) had eight kills while hitting .357. Schildroth had 14 assists and setter Claire Stewart (sophomore, Colorado Springs, Colo., Classical Academy) had 13. Zempel posted 25 digs while defensive specialist Dzenita Bahtic (sophomore, Urbandale) followed with nine. Retz added four blocks.
“The difference between the first and second match was our block,” Clayberg said. “Because our block was more consistent in the second match we were able to run the offense and score more efficiently. But we still made critical mistakes at critical times.”
Clayberg did see some positives.
“I was pleased with the players’ intentionality in the offense,” he said. “They attacked zones purposefully.
“Individually, Tess played consistent and Hannah did better today. Tori also played good defense and got to a lot of balls.”
Central (9-19) heads into postseason play Tuesday and faces Loras College (15-17) in the opening round of the six-team Iowa Conference tournament. The tourney champion gains the league’s automatic berth in the NCAA Division III tournament.
Tuesday’s match is set to begin a 7 p.m. at Dubuque. It’ll be the teams’ second meeting in a week. The Duhawks swept the Dutch 29-27, 25-10, 27-25 in the regular-season league finale last Tuesday at Pella.
“This team is certainly capable of playing good volleyball and putting pressure on the opposing team,” Clayberg said. “We just aren’t consistent enough yet. Hopefully with our backs against the wall Tuesday, we can find the competitive spirit to finish the job.”
Iowa Conference volleyball tournament
Tuesday, Oct. 30
No. 6 Central at No. 3 Loras, 7 p.m.
No. 5 Luther at No. 4 Dubuque, 7 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 1
Loras/Central winner at No. 2 Coe, 7 p.m.
Dubuque/Luther winner at No. 1 Wartburg, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 3
Semifinal winners at highest-seeded team