Just when it seemed like nothing could go right for eighth-ranked Iowa Central, the Tritons came together as a collective team and swept fourth-ranked Kirkwood here Sunday inside Hodges Fieldhouse.
Coming off a loss on the road and playing with a short-handed roster, Iowa Central deal the Eagles their first loss since the season opener between the two in late January.
Scores were 26-24, 25-22 and 25-13.
Returning All-American Kealey Anderson had 16 kills with 10 digs, a solo block, two block assists and an ace, Angel Baylark and Haley Alharithy each had eight kills, and Alesha Johnson recorded 29 assists with four serving aces for the Tritons (11-2 overall, 10-2 in ICCAC).
"Our girls are really intelligent and a very smart group," Iowa Central head coach Sara Horn said. "When we told them we had to switch from plan A to plan B, they went with it. I thought our captains stepped up, Kealey and Alesha played great, and we got some production out of everybody.
"We really had people step into some roles and play fantastic."
Bailey Dugan had 13 digs, an ace and a kill, Baylyn Johnson recorded 17 digs with an ace and Molly McCauley had three digs, two kills and an ace. As a team, the Tritons recorded eight serving aces with 37 kills, 61 digs, four solo blocks and six block assists.
"It feels amazing," Anderson said. "This morning was really tough, but we wanted to play for the girls that are out right now and we did that by coming together."
Anderson, who had six kills in the first set, had her own hiccup on the day during the match.
"I guess I didn't get much sugar," she said. "I screamed so hard and my adrenaline was going that I got light-headed. But the training staff came to my rescue."
After winning nine straight to open the year, Iowa Central went 1-2 including road setbacks at Des Moines Area and Indian Hills. This performance, though, has helped put them back into contention for a third consecutive conference title.
"I think it reassures our confidence that we are a good team if we play together," Horn said. "When you lose a couple, that knocks your confidence a bit. But our girls came out ready to go and played extremely well."
The Tritons and Kirkwood (9-2, 8-2) have won each of the last four league titles, with Iowa Central claiming the most recent two. Since 2015, the Tritons have finished third or better in the conference race each season with the Eagles placing in the Top-5 during those five years.
Iowa Central returns to action on Tuesday when they head to Iowa Lakes (2-11, 1-9). The Lakers were swept by Indian Hills on Sunday.
-By Dana Becker