GALESBURG — With two chances to clinch the outright Arrowhead Conference championship, the Carl Sandburg College volleyball team didn’t waste any time.
The Chargers claimed sole possession of the conference crown with a 25-18, 15-25, 25-11, 25-20 victory over Sauk Valley on Tuesday night at John M. Lewis Gymnasium. t’s the seventh Arrowhead title for the Chargers (22-14, 7-0) and their first since 1990.
“We came in focused and wanted to take care of business right away tonight,” Chargers coach Todd Winkler said. “They’ve definitely earned the right to call themselves champions, and now they don’t have to worry about sharing it with anyone. It’s a pretty special team to do something that hasn’t been done here before in almost 30 years.”
Sandburg, which clinched at least a share of the league title with last week’s win at Illinois Valley, can finish an unbeaten run through the conference with a victory next Tuesday at home against Black Hawk on Sophomore Night.
The Chargers faced a stiff challenge early on from second-place Sauk Valley (16-16, 5-3). Tied at 16 in the first set, Sandburg won seven of the next eight to open up a 23-17 lead and then closed it with back-to-back blocks from sophomore Jordan Price (Fulton).
Sauk Valley ran out to a 10-2 lead in the second to even the match, but the Chargers returned the favor in the third. A seven-point run behind Price’s serve gave Sandburg an 11-3 lead, and the Chargers added an 8-0 run on the serve of Haley Stevenson (Galesburg) to go up 19-4.
Sandburg had a seven-point lead in the fourth, but the Skyhawks won eight of the next 10 to get within 20-19. The Chargers, though, closed out their championship by winning five of the next six. Peyton Bowman (West Prairie) opened the run with a kill from Cora Vyhnanek (West Prairie), and Josalyn Owens (Lincoln) finished it with a kill on match point.
Hannah Thompson (West Prairie) was a force offensively and defensively for the Chargers, posting 16 kills (a team high) along with 12 digs and two aces. Owens had 15 kills and Bowman had 10.
Vyhnanek, playing her first full match since Sept. 25 after undergoing gallbladder surgery, had 41 assists and 11 digs.
Stevenson had a team-leading 14 digs from her libero position to go along with two aces, and Price had three blocks and a pair of aces.
“We’re healthy again and have a chance to get clicking before we enter the postseason,” Winkler said. “This was a good move in that direction tonight.”
The Chargers will host Black Hawk at 6 p.m. Oct. 23 for Sophomore Night before wrapping up the regular season at the Parkland Invite on Oct. 26-27.