CEDAR RAPIDS — For the fifth time in program history, the Iowa Central volleyball team concluded its NJCAA tournament run with a win.
The Tritons ended the 2022 season with a four-set win over ICCAC rival Kirkwood here on Saturday afternoon for seventh overall.
The results were 25-21, 25-15, 23-25 and 25-16.
Iowa Central has now placed third, fourth, seventh twice, 10th twice, 11th, and 13th in its appearances at the Nationals. The third place is from 2020 and the fourth from last year, which featured several of this season’s key players.
Katilyn Steffes, one of those players, had 20 kills and 20 digs, while Jori Hajek, another returning starter, added 10 kills with 17 digs. Brooke Dobson had nine kills, Leah Jolly had eight, and Mercedes Madlock had 40 assists with 12 digs.
“I was really proud of how we reacted,” said ICCC Head Coach Sara Horn. “It’s not easy to keep your emotions in check when you know this is the final game of the season against hometown rivals.
“But our girls showed mental strength and finished with a win. It was definitely a great way to go out for our sophomores.”
Kira Matthias added 12 digs and three aces of serve, while former St Edmond standout Mya McClain also had three aces and two digs.
Kylie McVey chipped in nine digs and Michaelah Petrowiak had three block assists for Iowa Central (36-7 overall).
Steffes, Hajek, Dobson, Matthias, McVey, Petrowiak, Baylee Greene, Brooke Hansen, Aaliyah Lobendah and Chloe Hicks all qualified for the final time. Hansen is a Fort Dodge Senior High graduate and Hicks is a former Southeast Valley Prep.
That year, the Tritons finished 2-2 in the national championships, clinching an opening four-set win over Gulf Coast State before losing to Richard Bland in the quarterfinals and Grand Rapids in the consolation round.
“This tournament was definitely challenging as we saw several upsets and close games throughout,” said Horn. “All eight or nine teams could and have won against each other at various points in the season, which makes it so exciting to see which teams are going to have their best games this week.
“Both teams we lost to this week will end either 4-0 or 3-1. They were both really hot.”
The Tritons won the ICCAC regular-season crown for the fifth straight season last fall and claimed it with a five-set win at Kirkwood.