For the past two seasons, nobody has been better in the ICCAC than Iowa Central.
The two-time defending league champion Tritons begin their title defense with a handful of returning players led by returning All-American Kealey Anderson and all-region players Haley Alharithy and Alesha Johnson.
Veteran Iowa Central head coach Sara Horn noted that with the decision to shift the volleyball season to the winter/spring, it more or less just flipped the schedule.
"The sophomores really knew what to expect as we essentially had the same schedule but in reverse," Horn said. "They did a great job of letting the freshmen know what was expected as we moved from one training cycle to the next."
It also provided for some different prep work towards the season.
"Working with Miguel Secor in the weight room and having some fall scrimmages really allowed the freshmen, and sophomores, to get a lot of training in, which was a huge benefit," she said. "The semester of training for all our players was a positive. It will be a huge advantage for our freshmen, but also for our sophomores who had to miss our on their spring season last year."
Anderson, a former Shenandoah standout, finished with 556 kills last year, which ranked sixth in the nation. She also scored 632 points, good for seventh, with 59 total blocks, 522 digs and 42 serving aces.
Alharithy recorded 199 kills, 148 blocks, 45 digs and scored 287 points with Johnson adding 44 kills, 27 aces, 340 digs and 28 blocks. Okinaka played in a handful of matches before suffering a knee injury that ended her season.
Ricke, Scott, Baylyn Johnson, Swanson and Eckert all saw time on the court as newcomers and will be counted on along with freshmen Katilyn Steffes and Angel Baylark to provide key minutes this season.
"We've really been able to develop far more of a team compared to normal years when you have just two weeks to get ready for the season," Horn said. "They've really adjusted well all things considered."
-By Dana Becker
IOWA CENTRAL VOLLEYBALL
Daejia Rodriguez, Laredo, Tex.; Devyn Scott, Fort Dodge; Baylyn Johnson, Algona; Haley Alharithy, Omaha; Karli Eckert, Omaha; Easton Swanson, Conrad; Kealey Anderson, Shenandoah; Taylor Ricke, Johnston; Alesha Johnson, Council Bluffs; Darlynn Okinaka, Hilo, Hi.
Emma Rissman, Crestwood; Molly McCauley, Algona; Angel Baylark, Burlington; Natalia Kellerman, Fargo, N.D.; Bailey Dugan, Wichita, Kan.; Jaiden Zeis, Fargo, N.D.; Katilyn Steffes, Rochester, Minn.; Siela Avea, Hau'ula, Hi.
Jan. 24 - at Kirkwood; 26 - Ellsworth; 28 - Des Moines Area.
Feb. 2 - at Northeast; 4 - Iowa Lakes; 7 - at Southeastern; 9 - at Hawkeye; 11 - Southwestern; 16 - North Iowa Area; 18 - at Des Moines Area; 23 - Northeast; 24 - at Indian Hills; 28 - Kirkwood.
March 2 - at Iowa Lakes; 4 - at North Iowa Area; 7 - Hawkeye; 11 - Marshalltown; 15 - Iowa Western; 18 - at Ellsworth; 21 - Southeastern; 23 - at Southwestern.