The fourth-ranked Iowa Central volleyball team came away from a loss with plenty to build upon, according to head coach Sara Horn.
No. 5 Iowa Western took a major step towards claiming the ICCAC title this year with a three-set victory over the Tritons inside Hodges Fieldhouse here Monday night.
Scores were 25-13, 25-22 and 25-16.
In a meeting of the reigning conference champions, it was the Div. I Reivers (16-3 overall, 9-0 in ICCAC) who pulled away from Iowa Central (15-3, 14-3), winners of the last two Div. II titles.
"They have some players that play on their national teams in Chile and Peru," Horn said. "But we weren't scared to play them, and that's what I love about this team. They wanted that challenge. You gain so much out of a match like this.
"It serves as a tremendous learning experience."
Iowa Western jumped out to an early lead, scoring six of the final nine points to take the opening set. In the second, the two exchanged the lead with the Tritons going up 16-12 following a Kealey Anderson kill. They held off a 4-0 run by Iowa Western with an Angel Baylark kill but were unable to pull off the set.
In the third, the Reivers took control with a seven-point run to go from leading 16-13 to 22-13.
"Our defensive effort was really, really good," Horn said. "We saw a lot of good things. I thought we rallied with them and it felt like the score was much closer than it showed. Iowa Western just seemed to win all of the great, long rallies.
"Now, we have to take that next step in practice. Seeing how high we can play is something we need to bring every single day."
The Tritons are scheduled to play Ellsworth in Iowa Falls on Thursday before hosting Southeastern for Sophomore Day on Sunday at 1 p.m. They close out the regular season at Southwestern next Tuesday.
-By Dana Becker