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Netters headed to Nationals

By Keith Norem
On November 30, 2015

Halle Lueck, no 16, and Alex Miner, no 10, slam the door on a would-be attack in the Kirkwood women's volleyball team semi final match. The Eagles advanced to the Regional Finals to face Iowa Central Community College for the chance to spend Thanksgiving in Pheonix for the National Tournament. 

Halle Lueck, no.16, collects another assitst while Alex Miner and Morgan Grimm run a two-player game on SWCC and collect a much-needed point to help the team record a victory. Photos by Keith Norem.

Kirkwood vs. Southwestern Community College

It was a close competition. Southwestern won the first set, 25-20. Kirkwood Community College then rebounded with victories during the next two sets, 25-21 and 25-16. Southwestern took the fourth set, 25-22, to square the match 2-2, which forced a fifth set tie breaker to determine the winner. 

Kirkwood settled in behind a supportive crowd and won the race to 15. The final point was a catechism of the entire night, a dig by Madsy Richards, an assist by Halle Lueck and a thunderous kill from Morgan Grimm. The ladies celebrated in front of a loud ovation. 

“It was exciting. It was awesome,” said Head Coach Jill Williams. “Being here, with our crowd ... They got into it. Their support kind of brought the momentum back to us when we may have let it slip a little bit.”

Grimm wasn’t the only rookie to shine for Kirkwood. Madsy Richards, a Xavier High School graduate, contributed 13 kills and 17 digs. Henna Laxton contributed 28 digs. Alex Miner blocked six shots and had three kills and Erica Armstrong had four kills.

“Morgan Grimm was huge tonight,” said Williams. “She put the ball away, she played defense and she had a couple of aces. She really picked it up.”

The freshmen blended with sophomores Halle Lueck and Erin Wenzel, who have led the team all season. Lueck, who ranks among the national leaders in assists, rolled up 49 more during the game. Wenzel had 11 kills and 13 digs according to the official stats released by the National Junior Community College Association.

“We played more as a team,” said Lueck. “The last time we played them, we had some individuals who were doing well and some who weren’t doing well. I think this was definitely a team effort. Everybody was really on and we were all working together.”

The Eagles looked to the leadership of sophomores Lueck and Wenzel as they have all year to lead them into the finals. However, the semi-final match proved that the Lady Eagles will only fly as far as the freshmen take them. 

Kirkwood vs. Iowa Central Community College

The regional finals match against Iowa Central Community College was an epic battle between the two best teams left in the tournament.  The Kirkwood netters stormed out of the gate to win the first two games on Nov. 7, in Estherville.  The Eagles were strong but the Tritons from ICCC proved to be more game than the first two matches showed. 

 ICCC rebounded strong and won games three and four to once again force a fifth game tie breaker.  The Lady Eagles were not going to be denied their chance to move on to the National Championship in Phoenix and dominated the deciding game 15-3. The Eagles will be hunting kills over Thanksgiving break instead of turkeys at the National Tournament.

Three KCC players were named to the All-Region team, including freshman Morgan Grimm and sophomore Halle Lueck. Also, Most Valuable Player honors went to sophomore Erin Wenzel. Wenzel, who led Kirkwood with 21 kills.  Richards had 14 kills, Grimm 11, Alex Miner six, Erica Armstrong four and  Lueck four.

Lueck, one of the top assist artists in the country, collected 44 more in the regional finals. Jenna Laxton had three ace serves and Armstrong finished with six blocks.

Wenzel led a balanced attack with 20 digs, Laxton had 19, Richards 16, Lueck 16, Grimm 12 and Miner five.

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