When all the dust had settled and the final point was scored in the regular season, a familiar team stood atop the ICCAC standings.
For the third consecutive season, Iowa Central was crowned champions, claiming the Div. II title.
With the honor comes the chance to claim a spot in the upcoming NJCAA National Tournament by winning the Region XI-A Tournament title. The six-team event begins this Friday with the play-in game between Ellsworth and Southwestern.
"This was a huge goal for this season knowing how competitive our conference was this year," Iowa Central returning All-American Kealey Anderson said. "This season had a bunch of road bumps with COVID and everything, so it was extremely special to see different girls step up.
"Seeing what we've gone through and how we reacted to it makes me even more excited for postseason. Props to the girls and the coaches for making it through the weirdest season yet."
The winner of that moves on to face the Tritons on Sunday inside Hodges Fieldhouse at 1 p.m. On the other side sits Hawkeye and North Iowa Area, with the championship match scheduled for Tuesday.
If Iowa Central wins the region title, they advance to nationals as the higher-seeded champion. The lower-seeded champion will play in a district final for a bid.
The Tritons finished the year 17-3 overall and 16-3 in league play. Kirkwood was second with Des Moines Area third. Iowa Western claimed the Div. I title.
Iowa Central, Kirkwood, Des Moines Area and Hawkeye are all ranked in the Top-10 in Div. II with Iowa Western fifth in Div. I. The Tritons went 5-1 in matches with Kirkwood, DMACC and Hawkeye.
"Winning a conference title in the ICCAC in volleyball is tough any year," Iowa Central head coach Sara Horn said. "But this year with cancellations due to weather and COVID were also in the mix, it became even harder. To go 5-1 against those teams that have been ranked in the Top-10 for most of the year shows how consistent and well-rounded this team is.
"Our players really come to work every day and even if things aren't going perfect, they know how to stay focused and work hard. This team has been a complete joy to coach and we are thrilled for them that their first goal of winning the regular season conference title was accomplished."
Iowa Central has gone 24-2 over the past three seasons at home, a place Anderson says is special.
"All of us are super excited to host," she said. "Being home is a huge privilege because not only do we have the home court, but we have our fans. To have our fans and family there in the most important part of the season means the world. I can't wait to see how far we'll go.
"Our motto this year is 29,029 and we've made it 29,000. Now we have to go the rest of the 29."
-By Dana Becker