The Carl Sandburg College volleyball clinched its first Arrowhead Conference championship in 28 years with a 25-12, 25-17, 25-14 sweep at Illinois Valley on Wednesday night.
With the victory, the Chargers (21-9, 6-0) guaranteed themselves at least a share of their seventh conference title in program history and first since 1990. Sandburg, the only team unbeaten in league play, can claim the outright championship with a victory in one of its last two conference matches (Tuesday at home against Sauk Valley or Oct. 23 at home against Black Hawk).
The Chargers, among others receiving votes for the third time this season in this week’s NJCAA Division II poll, dominated the Eagles (10-8, 3-3) from the outset. They had just one attack error in the opening set and seven for the entire match. Sandburg recorded nine aces, with six coming from freshman Emily Bloomer (Burlington, Iowa).
Sophomore Kylie Stineman (Mercer County), filling in for starting setter Cora Vyhnanek (West Prairie) as she recovers from abdominal surgery, had 30 assists and an ace for Sandburg.
Sophomore Hannah Thompson (West Prairie) delivered a team-best 16 kills without an error in 32 attacks and added two aces. Sophomore Josalyn Owens (Lincoln) added nine kills, three aces and two blocks.
“We came out and played like champions tonight,” said Chargers coach Todd Winkler, who earned his first conference title. “I thought we were going to have our hands full going on the road against a team that took us to four sets at our place, but these girls showed exactly how they’re capable of playing. Everybody on this team has contributed this year — especially the last couple weeks — and tonight was a great example of that.”
Sandburg will play in the Iowa Central Invitational on Friday and Saturday before looking to win the outright conference title at 6 p.m. Tuesday at home against Sauk Valley.