No. 2 Iowa Central wins regular-season home finale

Photo by Paul DeCoursey: Iowa Central sophomore Haley Alharithy played in her 101st career match as a Triton with teammate Alesha Johnson on Wednesday.

Wednesday night marked the 101st time that Alesha Johnson and Haley Alharithy played together as Iowa Central volleyball teammates.

The two have been part of an incredible run for the second-ranked Tritons, which continued with a victory over Northeast to secure at least a share of a fourth consecutive ICCAC Div. II titles.

Scores were 25-15, 23-25, 25-9 and 25-15.

Johnson and Alharithy are part of a small group of “super-sophomores” who took advantage of the COVID-19 year and returned this fall after also helping Iowa Central (36-1 overall, 8-0 in league) to a program-best third-place finish at nationals in the spring.

“To be able to compete for Triton volleyball has been amazing,” Johnson said. “The atmosphere and the fans make it that experience that everyone wants. After being here for three seasons, you get to know the coaches and some of the girls on a very personal level and it’s very hard to top that.

“Coming to Iowa Central, I had no idea what was going to happen but no matter what, it just felt right. This program and the girls know what it takes to succeed and play as a team.”

Katilyn Steffes led the way with 16 kills while Jori Hajek added 13 and Brooke Dobson 12. Alharithy and Angel Baylark each had five, with Johnson recording 48 assists.

Another member of that sophomore class, Baylyn Johnson, had 13 digs with Bailey Dugan adding 13 and Hajek 10. Dobson had four block assists and both Baylark and Hajek had two each.

“It’s always bittersweet on sophomore night because you want to play perfect,” Iowa Central head coach Sara Horn said. “I thought the girls were a little tight there early on, but they calmed themselves down and we were able to get all the sophomores in.”

Alharithy, who ranks in the Top-5 for career blocks, also has nearly 600 career kills. She is also planning to step away from the volleyball court once this season is complete.

“It’s meant a lot to have the opportunity to play for such a great team,” Alharithy said. “It has been so fun being a part of a record-setting program and playing for great coaches. I have loved getting to play with great teammates and I have made some really good friends here that I will miss playing with.

“This will be my last season of volleyball for my career. I’m so glad that I’ve gotten to play on this team for my last season.”

Johnson, from Council Bluffs who was a standout for St. Albert High, knows it will be difficult to find another college home like Iowa Central.

“Our quote this year is ‘our family vs. your team’ and we truly are a family,” Johnson said. “I wish this was a four-year because it’s tough to beat everything about this school is great.”

After the match, Iowa Central honored Emma Rissman, Siela Avea, Baylark, Devyn Scott, Molly McCauley, Natalia Kellerman, Dugan, Jaiden Zeis, Steffes, Baylyn Johnson, Alharithy, Bria Sandifer and Alesha Johnson.

The Tritons head to Beatrice, Neb. on Friday to face Southeast before closing out the regular season in Mason City next Wednesday at North Iowa Area.


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