No. 11 ranked volleyball team earns automatic bid to NCAA Tournament
[pb_vidembed title=”SportsKnight: IIAC Tournament Highlights” caption=”” url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-jrmjPeEWA” type=”yt” w=”480″ h=”385″]
NCAA No. 11 and IIAC No. 1 seed Wartburg (31-5) hosted IIAC No. 3 seed Loras (17-17) in the conference tournament final Saturday night and swept the Duhawks for the second time this season.
The victory gave the Knights an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, which begins with regional play this weekend.
“Obviously this has been our goal all season long and so I think achieving it is a kind of a sigh of relief,” head coach Jennifer Walker said.
“At the same time it’s like ‘OK it’s a new season, time to continue on and do what we’ve been doing all season and go as far as we can in that national tournament.’ ”
Loras scored the first point of the match on Cassie Crabill’s kill but the Knights responded with the next three.
The Duhawks tied the set at five and led until two straight Loras errors tied it at 15.
Wartburg took the lead on recently named Iowa Conference MVP Ramey Sieck’s kill to put the Knights up 17-16.
Ramey’s older sister Britlyn followed with a kill and Wartburg never looked back, winning set one 25-18 on Bailey Wilson’s service ace.
Wartburg carried the momentum from their late run in set one into set two as they never trailed en route to a 25-16 victory.
Twelve of Wartburg’s 25 points came on Loras errors.
Set three went back and forth with the Duhawks only trailing 1-0 and 2-1 until two straight service aces from Britlyn Sieck gave the Knights a 14-12 lead.
Loras came back with three straight points including a service ace by Kirsten Schultz to regain the lead.
The Knights responded with four straight points including kills from Ramey Sieck and Kelly Niemann.
Wartburg never trailed again and fittingly clinched the match with lone senior Britlyn Sieck’s kill off an assist from Ramey.
Wilson led the team in kills with 10 while Britlyn Sieck added eight, Maddie Forsyth had seven and Ramey Sieck had six.
Ramey also had 25 assists. The Knights had six blocks compared to three from Loras.
Wartburg had a .160 attack percentage, compared to just .059 percent from Loras.
“I think we got some things that we needed to get done that we’ve been working on in practice as far as defense,” Walker said.
“Offensively we were a little bit off and that’s unusual for us so that’s something we need to work on this week when we prepare for the regional tournament.”
Wartburg’s 23-set Iowa Conference winning streak was broke in the semifinals Thursday night when Luther won set four.
The Knights defeated the No. 5 seed Norse (15-17) 3-1 (25-23, 25-19, 22-25, 25-16).
Wartburg trailed 14-6 in set two before coming back to win.
“They’ve been confident all year long. We never really get rattled which is a fantastic thing for a team if we get down too much,” Walker said.
Wilson led the way with 15 kills and Britlyn Sieck had 10.
The Knights learn when, where and who they will play Monday morning.
Sixty four teams compete in the NCAA Division III volleyball tournament with eight teams hosting the first three rounds.
Five Knights receive all-conference honors
[pb_vidembed title=”SportsKnight: IIAC Awards” caption=”” url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-jrmjPeEWA” type=”yt” w=”480″ h=”385″]