Iowa Western volleyball advances to NJCAA final four with sweeps over Navarro, Hill

Iowa Western's Hina Pua'a and Morgan Bossler go up for a block against Hill Community College at nationals. 

HUTCHINSON, Kan. — After sitting through a 90-minute-plus delay, Iowa Western’s volleyball team was tired of waiting.

So when Navarro (Texas) threatened to extend their national quarterfinal match to four sets Thursday night, Iowa Western wasn’t having it.

Four late kills by freshman Kortlyn Henderson and two by sophomore Irina Alekseeva helped the Reivers pull out the sweep, 25-14, 25-17, 27-25, and advance to the final four of the NJCAA Division I volleyball tournament.

IWCC opened play earlier Thursday with a sweep of Hill (Texas). The win over Navarro puts IWCC into a semifinal at 6:30 Friday night against two-time defending champion Miami Dade.

After the Reivers won the first two sets, Navarro rallied to tie it 21-21.

From there, Henderson attacked, and Navarro responded every time. After Henderson’s last kill, Natalie Garcia answered for Navarro to tie it at 25.

At that point, a pair of sophomores took over.

Setter Hina Pua’a fed Irina Alekseeva for two straight kills, the last one of which clinched it for the Reivers.

The match, scheduled for 7:30 p.m., didn’t start until after 9 p.m. because an earlier quarterfinal match went five sets and another went four.

“We were tired, but we just tried to focus and realize the other team had to be tired too. We came out strong in the first set,” IWCC coach Alicia Williams said. “The other side played just a little bit nervous. We took advantage and got lucky.”

She said Henderson’s third-set emergence was welcome.

“She played a little bit timid in the first match and a half. She finally got back in her own shoes, started feeling a little better."

It came as a relief that the Reivers won in three after the long wait.

“I was glad that we squeaked out that last set. They were starting to get some energy and momentum, and I was a little nervous about what might happen.”

Alekseeva’s 11 kills and 10 from Henderson led the Reiver attack against Navarro.

Navarro......................14  17  25

Iowa Western.............25  25  27

IWCC: (kills-aces-blocks): Irina Alekseeva 11-2-2, Kortlyn Henderson 10-0-0, Genesis Sheridan 8-0-3, Morgan Bossler 7-0-2, Kelsey Havel 6-0-1, Hina Pua’a 3-0-2, Brooklynn McCain 0-1-0, Bryn Stansberry 0-0-0, Savannah Downing 0-0-0, Ariana Macies 0-0-0.

Set assists: Pua’a 37, McCain. Digs: Alekseeva 6, Sheridan 1, Bossler 3, Havel 5, Pua’a 4, McCain 6, Stansberry 2, Downing 11, Macies 12.

IWCC............25  25  25

Hill................18  19  21

IWCC: Irina Alekseeva 17-1-1, Kelsey Havel 4-0-0, Genesis Sheridan 8-0-2, Brooklynn McCain 0-1-0, Morgan Bossler 7-2-4, Hina Pua’a 1-1-2, Bryn Stansberry 0-0-0, Savannah Downing 0-0-0, Ariana Macies 0-1-0, Alyssa Oswald 5-0-2, Kortlyn Henderson 2-0-1.

Set assists: Havel, McCain, Pua’a 35, Macies 4. Digs: Alekseeva 4, Havel 8, McCain 5, Bossler 4, Pua’a 7, Downing 4, Macies 16, Oswald, Henderson.​

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