OCT 29, 2018
By: DANA BECKER, The Messenger Sports Reporter
Despite earning a Top-10 national ranking and going unbeaten in the ICCAC and 28 matches, Iowa Central head volleyball coach Sara Horn described the 2018 season as one that "wasn't an easy one."
The seventh-ranked Tritons, who went a perfect 9-0 to claim their first conference title since 2012, were kept one game from earning a second consecutive trip to the NJCAA Div. II National Tournament on Sunday by rival Kirkwood.
Iowa Central (28-10 overall) will see a dozen sophomores graduate from the program, which won 60 matches over the past two years and placed 10th last season at nationals.
"We asked our team to change and compromise a lot of times, and they did what we asked of them to every single time," Horn said. "If anything makes me sad about this year, it's the hard lesson our girls had to learn; you can do everything right, work extremely hard and it still doesn't always turn your way."
The Tritons were 9-2 at home this season, including wins inside Hodges Fieldhouse over No. 9 Kirkwood and 18th-ranked Hawkeye, along with previously ranked Des Moines Area and Northeast.
Due to a scheduling conflict, though, Iowa Central was forced to play host for regionals at St. Edmond High School over the weekend. The Tritons went 22-4 at home over the past two years.
Kryssie Okinaka, who twice earned national player of the week honors, tied the single-match record for digs with 44 and also finished second for single-season digs with 804. For her two-year career, the Hawaii native had 1,352 digs and 68 serving aces.
Libby Zorn recorded 758 career kills, including 444 this past season, while Kayla Faldet had 465 kills and 290 total blocks. Asarar Gony picked up 379 career kills, Hannah Murray had 289 with 65 aces and Abby Lohrmann recorded 2,816 assists with 97 career aces.
During the regular season, Iowa Central knocked off then-No. 1 Johnson County and went toe-to-toe with perennial national title contenders like Coffeyville, Highland and Cowley.
"This sophomore class had an immediate transformative impact on this program as soon as they arrived," Horn said. "This group is full of so many passionate, strong-willed, outgoing, natural leaders and they really can't go anywhere — on campus or otherwise — without getting noticed."
Okinaka, Zorn, Faldet, Gony, Murray, Lohrmann, Skylar Morrison, Brenda Hopkins, Maddy Punsalan, Sydney Oliver, Fernanda Orsi and Stevie Fremouw will all be moving on, leaving returning freshman standout Amaya Finley and the rest of that class to continue the movement.
Finley, who earned all-tournament honors with Lohrmann, led the Tritons with 531 kills. She also had 33 serving aces, 436 digs and 47 total blocks.
"We have a lot of talented freshmen in this group," Horn said. "Amaya has a ton of untapped potential and we're really excited to see what we can get out of her this offseason.
"And with losing so many sophomores, were excited to see which freshmen step up to fill those roles."