Sandburg Volleyball Drops Opener at Nationals to No. 3 Tritons

  Aaron Frey
  Tuesday, April 13, 2021 12:07 PM


The Carl Sandburg College volleyball team put up a strong fight against third-seeded Iowa Central but dropped its first-round match of the NJCAA Division II Volleyball Championship to the Tritons 25-15, 25-22, 25-19 on Tuesday at Alliant Energy PowerHouse.

The 14th-seeded Chargers (10-9) — making their third national tournament appearance in the last four seasons — will face No. 11 seed North Platte (Neb.) at 10 a.m. Wednesday in a consolation bracket quarterfinal.

Iowa Central (20-3) won the first four points of Tuesday’s match and never trailed in the first set, but the Chargers found some footing in the second. Trailing 12-5, Sandburg rattled off a 7-0 run that was capped by a Carley Reeves-Eakins (Branson, Mo./Reeds Spring) kill off an assist from Carmyn Baldwin (Lewistown, Ill./Lewistown).

A tip by Reeves-Eakins forced another tie at 13 before the Tritons won five straight for an 18-13 lead. Sandburg battled back again, though, this time using a 5-0 run of its own to tie the set again. A Gracie Rademaker (Green Valley, Ill./Midwest Central) kill and a pair of Reeves-Eakins aces highlighted the stretch. Iowa Central, however, won the next two points and six of the next eight to help force set point as it took a 2-0 lead in the match.

“Once we settled in and started to play our game more, we were able to put together some good stretches,” Chargers coach Todd Winkler said. “We didn’t shy away from anything. They just made a few more plays than we did at key moments.”

Baldwin opened the third with an ace for the Chargers’ first lead before the Tritons won seven of the next eight. But Sandburg rallied back once more, getting back-to-back kills from Megan Crome (Marshall, Ill./Marshall) to tie the third set at 7.

Down 16-10, Sandburg used a pair of Jerzi Johnson (Monmouth, Ill./United) blocks and another from Annie McKim (Yates City, Ill./homeschooled) during a 5-1 spurt to pull within 17-15. Iowa Central pulled away once more, using a 5-0 run to lead 22-15, and the Tritons took the final three points to finish off the sweep.

“We did a lot of good things in the last two sets that we can take into the rest of the tournament,” Winkler said. “Against competition like this, you have to be consistent and keep your focus on every point. We played some of our best volleyball of the season coming into this week, and if we do that, we can make a good run over the next couple of days.”

Reeves-Eakins led Sandburg with a .242 hitting percentage on 11 kills, added two block assists and had two of the Chargers’ four aces. Baldwin had 18 assists and joined Crome, Rademaker and McKim with three kills each.

Libero Kelsey Hobson (Bartonville, Ill./Limestone) had 10 digs, and Johnson recorded two solo blocks and three block assists for Sandburg.

Iowa Central’s Kealey Anderson led all players with 15 kills. Setter Alesha Johnson had 32 assists, 10 digs and three aces for the Tritons.

BOX SCORE: Sandburg vs. Iowa Central

NJCAA Division II Volleyball Championship homepage 


Carl Sandburg College freshman Carley Reeves-Eakins goes up for an attack during the Chargers' first-round match against Iowa Central in the NJCAA Division II Volleyball Championship on Tuesday in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

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Aaron Frey