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Eagles finish 7th at Nationals

By Keith Norem
On December 7, 2015

The Eagles began the national tournament in Phoenix by upsetting Owens Community College, 25-23, 25-13, 23-25 and 25-22, in the opening round. The netters reversed their fortune from earlier in the season, when Owens handed KCC a 3-1 loss in tournament play.

 The Kirkwood Eagles were  then swept by DMACC, 25-18, 25-13 and 25-19, in the quarterfinals of the NJCAA Division II National Volleyball Tournament on Nov. 19.

Kirkwood (29-16) faced No. 8 seed Cowley Community college in a consolation match Friday afternoon, falling 3-1, and dropping them into the consolation match for seventh place.

Erin Wenzel led Kirkwood with 15 kills and 18 digs against Owens. Morgan Grimm collected 12 kills, Alex Miner had nine, Madsy Richards, eight and Erica Armstrong, four.

Halle Lueck dished out 38 assists for the Eagles and had 21 digs against Owens. Jenna Laxton contributed 18 digs, Richards had 14 and Grimm had seven. Miner led Kirkwood with five blocks.

Wenzel had 12 kills against DMACC, which is seeded No. 4 in the tournament. Richards had nine kills and Grimm had seven. Lueck collected 28 more assists.

The seventh place match put the Eagles against the No. 10 seeded Northeastern Oklahoma A & M with a record of 25 wins versus just three losses for the season.  The Eagles were not intimidated and were not going to be denied. However, the women won the match and took seventh place.  

 The Lady Eagles will be saying goodbye to their sophomores soon but there is no better way to finish playing days like with a win at the national tournament, said Halle Lueck. 

Lueck added, “I feel honored to been able to compete at the national tournament.” She added, “We were also proud to have beaten two teams that had beaten us earlier in the year.”

When asked how she feels after playing her last game with KCC, Lueck said, “I’m thankful for the coaching staff and every person associated with our team this year for helping us sophomores achieve a goal that we fell short of last year. I’m going to miss being an Eagle. Something I will never forget is winning the last game I played in at the national tournament. It was like a dream come true.”   

  There will be All-American Honors released over the holiday break, but the National Tournament team did feature Lueck, who was in the top four in the nation in assists and assists per game, according to the National Junior College Athletic Association.

    The Eagles will lose three sophomores from this season, including Erin Wenzel from Clinton, Halle Lueck from Ely and Natalie Demmel from Marengo. 

The coaching staff, led by head coach Jill Williams and her assistants, Mike Emberston, Gabe Loesh and Kevin Geary, will need to fill the leadership and production of these three sophomores for a run at Nationals again next season. 

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