Tritons rally past Kirkwood in pivotal ICCAC clash

Messenger photo by Britt Kudla Abby Lorhmann of Iowa Central sends the ball over the net on Wednesday inside Hodges Fieldhouse. For more photos, please visit CU.messengernews.net

Sara Horn had one word to describe the difference in sophomore outside hitter Libby Zorn’s play between her freshman and sophomore seasons with Iowa Central volleyball.

“Fearless,” Horn said. “The girls use it a lot to describe one another and I thought Libby just went out there and was fearless with her play. She didn’t worry about making mistakes or anything and she just played great volleyball.”

Zorn recorded the final four points of the deciding fifth set for the eighth-ranked Tritons here Wednesday night as they rallied for a victory over No. 12 Kirkwood inside a boisterous Hodges Fieldhouse.

Scores were 20-25, 25-19, 20-25, 25-13 and 19-17.

Zorn had six kills in the final set and freshman Amaya Finley added five as Iowa Central (22-8 overall, 7-0 in ICCAC) moved one step closer to clinching the conference title. The loss officially ended Kirkwood’s (25-6, 4-3) run atop the league standings, which included back-to-back 8-0 seasons.

“Libby is just the sweetest person you will ever meet,” Horn said. “I know how good this feels for her, and it feels really good for us as a team to win a match like this. She’s had a great year after having a really good freshman season.”

Finley finished with 21 kills and 25 digs, with Zorn adding 19 to give the duo 759 on the season. Kayla Faldet had nine and assisted on seven blocks, and Hannah Murray chipped in seven kills and 25 digs.

Kryssie Okinaka, who ranks second in the nation in digs, had 22, with Abby Lohrmann recording 54 assists, 16 digs and a pair of kills.

Iowa Central, which was given a scheduling break with all home matches this season against the top teams in the ICCAC, improved to 38-7 at Hodges Fieldhouse since 2015. They are now 103-48 overall and 25-6 in the league.

“It really was just a lucky break for us to get those key matches at home,” Horn said. “Our crowd really does help motivate us and get us going. The girls also do a great job of creating that energy for themselves when they need it.”

One of those critical times came late in the third set with the Eagles in complete control. Horn called timeout and her assistant, Alyssa Guarnaccia, had a quick conversation with Murray, a sophomore leader, on the sidelines.

The Tritons would score a pair of points out of the break, and even though Kirkwood went up 2-1 in the match, some momentum was created.

Iowa Central came out in the fourth and imposed its will, as Zorn had four kills and three serving aces. The Tritons tallied the final six points, including three off Zorn aces.

“Volleyball is such a momentum sport,” Horn said. “It’s weird too because you’ll see scores where one team kills another in one set, only to come back and win it big. But that’s just what momentum does for you in volleyball.”

Alexa Aldrich-Ingram, who started as a freshman at Drake University, led the Eagles with 32 kills, with Haleigh Durnin adding 12.

Kirkwood had a 17-match ICCAC win streak snapped earlier this year vs. DMACC, a run that saw the Eagles go 26-4 in conference play. They are 114-50 since the start of the 2015 season.

Hannah Huss, a former St. Edmond standout, is a member of the Kirkwood team. She has played in 11 matches this season with 10 kills, 24 digs and two aces.

Iowa Central returns to action this Friday when they host No. 5 Cowley County and the Grand View JV for the Triton Invitational. Matches are also scheduled for Saturday with Rock Valley and Carl Sandburg.