Sports, Volleyball

Slumping Knights earn resounding sweep

Photos: Alyssa Noble

The team Wartburg volleyball co-coach Jennifer Walker expects to see on a regular basis showed up Tuesday night.

She hadn’t seen it much over the last two weeks.

The Knights had lost five of their last seven matches, but looked more like the team that started the season 16-2 with a 25-17, 25-20, 25-10 sweep of Dubuque (11-16, 2-3) in front of 650 fans mostly clad in blue in support of colon cancer awareness.

“It’s what we’ve been trying to convince them over the last two weeks when we’ve been struggling that this is our team and this is how we should be playing all the time,” Walker said. “We have the capabilities. They’ve shown it to us over and over. Tonight was fantastic.”

Wartburg hit .314 to UD’s .143 and only trailed at the beginning of the final two sets — 1-0, 2-0 and 2-1 in the second and 1-0 in the third.

The Knights focused on shutting down right-side hitter Klaudia Basierak, who was third in the IIAC in kills per set entering Tuesday despite her team ranking last.

“We knew we could have our middle blockers kind of shake that direction,” Walker said.

Basierak hit .200 and had a match-high nine kills.

Middle hitter Bailey Wilson led Wartburg with a .538 attack percentage and seven kills. Outside hitter Claire Willenbring and right-side Krystal Graves also had seven kills.

“Our right-sides had a split block almost every single time and they had a gap that they could swing through,” Walker said.

Video: Seth Nutting

Wartburg’s serve was lethal all night. The Knights had 12 service aces, led by Karly Bown’s four, and rarely allowed the Spartans to get comfortable.

“We’ve been an aggressive serving team, and I think that’s been part of when we’ve let up these last couple weeks, that’s probably been part of our game,” Walker said.

“We were really emphasizing that yesterday and throughout the weekend that that’s really an area that we need to pick back up again.”

Setters Maria Brown and Emma Harmeyer each had three service aces, each of Harmeyer’s coming during a five-point run in the final set that gave Wartburg a 22-6 lead.

Brown led the way with 20 assists while Harmeyer added 15 and 10 digs. Jamie Farley had 11 digs.

The win moves the Knights into a tie for third place with Central in the IIAC, one match behind Buena Vista and two behind Coe.

Wartburg had dropped two league matches in a row — to Coe last Wednesday and Central the Tuesday before, both on the road — that snapped a 20-match IIAC winning streak.

Iowa Conference play continues at Levick Arena Tuesday when the Knights host Luther (12-13, 1-4) after an off weekend.

“We talked to them at the very end, saying, ‘This should not be a surprise. This should not be like, ‘Oh my gosh we finally did it,’ it should be, ‘This is what’s expected,’’ and we want them to continue that way,” Walker said.

Monday/Tuesday IIAC Scores

Buena Vista 3, Luther 2 (28-26, 21-25, 22-25, 25-19, 15-9)
Coe 3, Simpson 0 (25-17, 25-14, 25-20)
Loras 3, Central 2 (25-22, 25-23, 13-25, 24-26, 18-16)
Wartburg 3, Dubuque 0 (27-17, 25-20, 25-10)

IIAC Standings

Coe (5-0)
Buena Vista (4-1)
Central (3-2)
Wartburg (3-2)
Dubuque (2-3)
Luther (1-4)
Loras (1-4)
Simpson (1-4)

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