Eckert, Okinaka, Swanson find their next homes

Eckert, Okinaka, Swanson find their next homes

Karli Eckert, Darlynn Okinaka and Easton Swanson were key pieces to one of the best seasons in Iowa Central volleyball history this past year.

Now, the three are moving on, taking their talents to the next level.

Eckert, from Omaha, has committed to Lindenwood University, Okinaka, who is from Hawaii, is attending Ottawa University, and Swanson, from Conrad, is headed to Dubuque University. 

Iowa Central earned the highest finish at nationals for the school this past year, placing third. They secured a third consecutive ICCAC regular season title along the way.

"We are always so happy when players decide to continue their athletic careers after Iowa Central, and though half of this year's sophomore class is coming back for the fall, we're so happy that three of the four players graduating this spring will continue playing," Iowa Central head coach Sara Horn said.

Eckert played in all 26 matches, recording 154 digs with seven assists and a serving ace. She had 158 career digs in 28 matches as a Triton.

"Karli was such an instrumental piece of this year's team," Horn said. "Karli is the best vocal leader I've ever coached and she would say the hard things that needed to be said. I think so highly of Karli and I am super excited for her to continue her athletic career and I'm happy for Lindenwood that they got a player of such high character."

Okinaka, who recovered from a knee injury, was in 21 matches this past season with 52 digs, 11 serving aces, four assists and two kills. She finished her career with 46 matches played, 150 digs, 17 aces, five assists and two kills. 

"I was really emotional on sophomore night, particularly when realizing that Darlynn would be leaving the program," Horn said. "I've had an Okinaka sister on the team for the past four years and I felt like I was not only saying goodbye to Darlynn, but saying goodbye to her whole family, who we all love dearly. With Darlynn being the baby of the family, I know how much it means to all of them to see her continue on with her academic and athletic careers, and I am so proud of how much she's grown athletically, academically and just as a person."

Swanson saw the court in 25 matches, recording 54 kills, 42 digs, 29 total blocks and three serving aces. She scored 63.5 points as a freshman. 

"Easton had Dubuque on her radar really early this season, and I'm so happy for her that it worked out for her," Horn said. "Dubuque is getting a great player and a great person, and we wish Easton a ton of success moving forward." 

Lindenwood is an NCAA Div. II school that competes in the Great Lakes Valley Conference. Ottawa is an NAIA program that plays in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference. Dubuque is part of the American Rivers Conferences and competes in the NCAA Div. III ranks. 

-By Dana Becker