OCT 25, 2018
BY: DANA BECKER, The Messenger Sports Reporter
For the second time in program history, the Iowa Central volleyball team has claimed an ICCAC championship.
The seventh-ranked Tritons put a perfect cap on the regular season in league play, finishing 9-0 and atop the standings with a sweep of Des Moines Area on Sophomore Night here Wednesday inside Hodges Fieldhouse.
Scores were 25-23, 26-24 and 25-15.
Iowa Central (27-9 overall, 9-0 in league) had already clinched the No. 1 seed in the upcoming Region XI Tournament, but they wanted to join the 2012 squad that also went 9-0 to win the conference title.
"This was definitely one of the goals for these sophomores," ICCC head coach Sara Horn said. "This is a really, really special group and a huge accomplishment. There is a ton of talent in our sophomore class, but instead of each one of them going in separate directions, they decided last spring to come together and do something special.
"They have worked really hard on going in one direction at all times through any and all obstacles."
Horn admitted that her goal was to try and keep the emotions in check by honoring sophomores Skylar Morrison, Brenda Hopkins, Hannah Murray, Abby Lohrmann, Maddy Punsalan, Sydney Oliver, Fernanda Orsi, Kryssie Okinaka, Stevie Fremouw, Asarar Gony, Kayla Faldet and Libby Zorn after the match, but that didn't quite go as planned.
"The freshmen decorated the locker room and there were a lot of tears shed before we even got out there," she said. "We were just super anxious to start, but I thought by the third set, we were finally playing at a high level."
Amaya Finley, a freshman inserted into the starting lineup this year, recorded nine kills as the Tritons overcame a mid-set slumber by scoring eight of the final 11 points. She finished with a match-high 19 kills.
Finley tallied the final two points on kills, as Zorn added six kills, and Lohrmann had three.
In the second set, Iowa Central overcame an early DMACC (23-11, 6-3) advantage, as Lohrmann had six kills and Finley added five more. Zorn had the final point in the second and Faldet the clincher in the third.
Lohrmann tallied 43 assists, giving her 1,284 for the season. Okinaka recorded 30 digs, giving her 775 for the year and placing her second on the school's single-season records list.
The Bears will return here this weekend for regionals as the No. 4 seed alongside ninth-ranked Kirkwood and Southeastern. The tournament will take place at St. Edmond due to a scheduling conflict.
"It was good for us to finish it off strong there in the third because we might be facing DMACC again here this weekend," Horn said. "We have a few teams in the conference this year that have older players, and I just feel it is such a big advantage to be able to rely on that experience. It also helps to handle the emotions and use them as an advantage and not a disadvantage."
Iowa Central will face Southeastern at 1 p.m. with DMACC and Kirkwood to begin at 3 p.m. on Saturday. The winners meet on Sunday at 1 p.m. in the Region XI-A championship.
The Tritons qualified for nationals last year, placing 10th overall. They have made four other appearances in school history.