Doug Frazell left his post at West Des Moines Valley when Bailey Wilson was a junior there.
Frazell was taking an assistant volleyball job at Wartburg, and made Wilson promise him to visit the school.
She did, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Wilson’s time in an orange and black uniform is almost up, though. She and Karly Bown were honored at Levick Arena on Tuesday night as Wartburg’s volleyball team earned its second straight Iowa Conference sweep, beating Luther 25-19, 25-23, 25-18.
“It’s a bittersweet moment,” said Wilson, a three-time all-conference middle hitter whose team locked up a spot in the IIAC tournament with the victory. “But at the same time, it gets me really excited about the coming couple weeks and knowing that our team is gonna pull through in the end and hopefully win that conference tournament.”
Wilson, who leads the league in kills and attack percentage, hit .250, produced a team-high eight kills and had a match-high five blocks.
“She has done so much for this program on the court, but also just helping us define what our culture was gonna be like on and off the court,” Frazell, now the co-head coach, said.
Photos: Alyssa Noble
Wartburg (20-7, 4-2) had lost five of seven matches prior to the sweeping Dubuque and Luther (12-15, 1-5) on consecutive Tuesdays. What has changed for the better?
“Since day one, I’ve told our team if we serve really well and our ability to defend, if you put those two things together we’re hard to beat. We’ve played offensively pretty well this year, but there’s times our serving leaves us and then it’s harder to defend,” Frazell said. “Tonight was one of those nights we had them out of their system the whole night.”
You can’t talk about Wartburg’s serving without talking about the other senior on this year’s team, Bown, also the only non-Iowa on the roster — she’s from Lincoln, Neb.
Bown has 185 service aces in her career, third all-time in the program and 14 away from second. She added two of Wartburg’s six on Tuesday.
“The last three years we’ve had a lot of success, you look at Britlyn and Ramey (Sieck) and all these players. The last two years, I’ve set up our offense to have Karly serve the ball first,” Frazell said. “Even though she wasn’t the libero, just as a DS, we set up everything to put the ball in her hands serving.”
Perhaps Wartburg’s next great server will be Maria Brown, a freshman setter who served during a 10-0 Wartburg run that erased a 19-9, set-two deficit.
Wilson had three kills and two blocks during that stretch, while the Norse committed four unblocked attacking errors.
Claire Willenbring added three kills after Luther scored the next point, and Kaity Brouwer contributed two, including set point, as the Knights prevailed 25-23 and took a 2-0 lead in the match.
“One of our little Achilles heels this year has been to be a little bit high error with ball control and it’s came out. To be able to come back, again, just highlights how well we can serve,” Frazell said. “They struggled to get the ball in system and then our ability to defend even when they were in system led to that run.”
The Knights were in control for most of sets one and three, taking early 7-2 leads in both and never leading by less than five after that.
Luther, losers of six straight matches, hit just .072, led by Leah Broderick’s 11 kills. Wartburg hit .226, including .330 in the final set.
Emma Harmeyer had 19 assists, Brown 15. Jamie Farley had 24 digs. Lindsey Ryan contributed 29 assists for Luther. Taylor Gaide had 18 digs.
Wartburg plays at Buena Vista (19-8, 4-1) next Tuesday with the opportunity to clinch the conference’s No. 2 seed and a bye to the semifinals with a win.
Tuesday’s IIAC Scores
Coe 3, Central 1 (25-13, 23-25, 25-21, 25-11)
Simpson 3, Loras 2 (25-20, 15-25, 25-20, 15-25, 15-9)
Wartburg 3, Luther 0 (25-19, 25-23, 25-18)
7 p.m. — Buena Vista @ Dubuque
Buena Vista (4-1)