NJCAA D-I No. 1 Iowa Western volleyball went 3-0 at the Sheila Worley Invitational in Sterling, Colorado on Friday and Saturday to claim first place and improve their record to 7-0.
The Rivers started Friday off with a 3-1 win over D-1 No. 20 Western Nebraska Community College, 25-22, 25-23, 20-25, 25-17. They picked up right where they left off on Saturday defeating No. 9 Utah State Eastern 3-1 (20-25, 25-20, 25-22, 25-23).
“We played with everyone at full strength (for the first time) this weekend, so it was a little rocky but we ended really well in every match,” head coach Alicia William said.
“Western Nebraska was a scrappy team with great defense. We had a lot of long rallies. Emma Prentice played really well in that match and had a double double.”
Iowa Western finished the tournament with a sweep over the hosts, Northeast Junior College, 25-14, 25-20, 25-16.
In the match against Western Nebraska, freshman Emma Prentice led Iowa Western with 14 kills, sophomore Maike Bertens finished with 12 and sophomore Delaney Esterling tallied nine. Sophomore Yadhira Anchante paced the Reivers with 46 assists and sophomore Dayan Malave and Esterling blocked four shots each. Freshman Duru Ozkan led in digs with 26.
Bertens led Iowa Western in kills against Utah State Eastern with 16, Malave finished with 12 and Freshman Cherlin Antonio added 10. Anchante recorded 45 more assists. Ozkan and Anchante each had 14 digs and Elaina Bohnet totaled 13 digs. Esterling stuffed five shots at the net.
“Then we played Utah State Eastern University, ranked No. 6 currently in the nation. They are a team that just works really hard every time we play them. They also had some motivation after losing to us in the quarterfinals last spring. We came out a little slow, but then we competed well and had great parity offensively, mostly due to Yadhira Anchante making great decisions.
“Cherlin Antonio and Dayan Malave also had great games. All of the sets were close and what’s uplifting is we didn’t play perfect and we still beat a very solid team.”
In the final match, Bertens recorded 13 kills, Anchante tallied 34 assists and Ozkan finished with 17 digs. The Reivers were able to take advantage of 20 attacking errors and six serving errors.
“Northeastern might have been our best match,” Williams said. “We came out of the gate playing really good defense and made it hard for them to gain momentum. We swept pretty easily and ended the tourney on a high note.”
Iowa Western is in action next at 1 p.m. on Friday at the Hutchinson Blue Dragon Tournament in Hutchinson, Kansas.
Western Nebraska (8-7) 22 23 25 17 1 Iowa Western 25 25 20 25 3 Utah State Eastern (11-5) 25 20 22 23 1 Iowa Western 20 25 25 25 3 Iowa Western (7-0) 25 25 25 xx 3 Northeast JC (4-8) 14 20 16 xx 0