Central sweeps two in Virginia volleyball

Central College

Central College

DANVILLE, VA. — Hitting its stride in the season’s first tournament, the Central College volleyball team posted a pair of sweeps Sunday at the Averett Cougar Classic in Virginia.

The Dutch raced past Emory & Henry (Va.) 27-25, 25-12, 25-12 and William Peace (N.C.) 25-22, 25-17, 25-19. Central’s 3-1 start is its best since 2011.

The Central offense was efficient once again, hitting .275 in the opener and .252 in the nightcap. The Dutch had a sluggish start against Emory & Henry (2-2), committing seven attack errors, but rallied from a 21-16 deficit for the opening-set win. Central hit .480 and .333 in the final two sets.

“I thought we were very good,” coach Kent Clayberg said. “We played at a pretty fast tempo. I liked the way we looked.

“It’s easy to look at our 3-1 record and wish we had that one back. That’s easy to say, but I think losing that match may have been part of what we needed to help us get to the point of knowing how fast we want to go.”

Freshman outside hitter Kylie Gerstein (Iowa Falls, Iowa Falls-Alden HS), one of three rookies on the trip, had a match-high seven kills and hit .385 with three blocks. Senior middle hitter Hannah Welter (Lincoln, Neb., Southwest HS) and junior right-side hitter Emily Stoakes each had six kills while setter Claire Stewart (senior, Colorado Springs, Colo., Classical Academy HS) passed out 20 assists with seven digs.

Against William Peace (1-2), Stoakes had eight kills while outside hitter Shantell Gish (senior, Cedar Rapids, Prairie HS) had seven. Stewart and setter Madison Maddox (sophomore, Tulsa, Okla., Bishop Kelly HS) each had 10 assists while libero Dzenita Bahtic (senior, Urbandale) had 20 digs.

Gish, who also had five kills against Emory & Henry was named to the all-tournament team. She hit. .357 for the weekend, with 29 kills in four matches and 10 block assists.

“I feel good about the weekend,” Clayberg said. “The things we learned and the way we developed were very good. Every facet of our game had a good weekend.”

After a trip to the beach on the Atlantic Ocean Sunday afternoon, Central flies back to Iowa Monday morning but heads back out of state for the North Park (Ill.) Invitational in Chicago Friday and Saturday. The Dutch tackle Aurora (Ill.) Friday at 4 p.m. and North Central (Ill.) at 6 p.m. Central holds a 5-0 advantage in the all-time series with Aurora, which includes a five-set victory last September. The Spartans were 2-2 in the Augustana (Ill.) College Tournament Friday and Saturday. The Dutch are 1-1 against North Central. The Cardinals captured the New York University Labor Day Invitational with a 4-0 mark this weekend.

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