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Fourth-rated Iowa Central sweeps NIACC, improves to 9-0

Photo by Paul DeCoursey: Iowa Central teammates Bailey Dugan (left) and Angel Baylark go for a block at the net against NIACC on Tuesday inside Hodges Fieldhouse.

With a key Top-10 matchup looming on the horizon, the fourth-ranked Iowa Central volleyball team did not look past North Iowa Area here Tuesday night.

Instead, the Tritons continued to sweep through the ICCAC, easily taking down the Trojans inside Hodges Fieldhouse.

Scores were 25-16, 25-19 and 25-22.

Katilyn Steffes led the way for Iowa Central (9-0 overall, 8-0 in the conference) with 12 kills, 11 digs and two aces, while Kealey Anderson and Haley Alharithy each added 10 kills and four total blocks.

The Tritons are set to meet No. 9 Des Moines Area (8-2, 8-2) in Boone on Thursday night. Earlier this season, Iowa Central swept the Bears at home.

“We are really in a big four-week stretch of matches,” Iowa Central head coach Sara Horn said. “We’ve got two, sometimes three, in a week, but these girls are excited for that and excited for the challenge that we will face in DMACC.”

Steffes, who is already closing in on 100 kills for the season, had three in the first set, five in the second and four in the closing third.

Alesha Johnson picked up 36 assists with 11 digs and an ace. Johnson entered the night ranked fourth in the nation in assists.

“Alesha does a great job of getting the ball to the player in the best position,” Horn said. “We really have a lot of great players that can have big games, and she does a tremendous job of reading early on who to get it to.

“It’s really hard to defend us.”

Angel Baylark added seven kills with Bailey Dugan and Johnson each chipping in two. Baylyn Johnson had 11 digs and two serving aces with Karli Eckert adding two aces.

Anderson had two solo blocks and Dugan had three assist blocks as the Tritons finished with 13 total blocks as a team.

The game marked the first to be played in front of a limited crowd after restrictions were lifted by the ICCAC starting this week.

“It felt like we were a little emotional early on,” Horn said. “But that can be expected. We have girls from Hawaii, Kansas, North Dakota playing in front of their families for the first time. Some of them haven’t seen them for a long time.

“But we played composed after that early stretch and shook of any bad plays when we did have one and moved on to the next one.”

Iowa Central has now won 11 consecutive league matches and are 25-1 in conference play. They are also 51-10 at home since the start of the 2016 season.

DMACC posted a 3-0 victory over Southeastern last night. The Bears, who are led by former Triton head coach Patty Harrison, have won their last eight since the loss to Iowa Central.

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