The 2017 volleyball season reached the ultimate peak of playing championship volleyball. The Eagles reached the MCCC Conference Tournament Championship, NCCAA North Region semi-final round, and concluded the season participating in the 2017 ACCA National Championship match. Coaches Lanny Nihart and Erin Davis applaud the efforts given by the team which finished with an 18-17 winning mark.
"We began the year with 3 straight victories then battled through a series of early season losses, mid-season rotation adjustments and late season injuries. Senior captains Emilie (Morton) and Shannon (Steffen) did a great job of controlling energy and pace in practice, establishing team relationships, modeling consistency, and teaching our team how to win. Finishing the year with a winning record established a positive environment going forward," cited Coach Nihart. Coach Erin Davis recognized progress throughout the 2017 season. "Overall it was a productive year. As a coaching staff you always want to see growth in the team by the end of the season. I was thankful for the way the team worked down to the last point!"
The last point came during the ACCA National championship final match against a strong Arlington Baptist team. The Eagles reached the championship needing to draw on stamina and will power having defeated Dallas Christian in two separate grueling 5 set matches with Dallas Christian. "We really had to dig deep to finish as strong as possible against an NCCAA top 10 team". We actually became stronger during the match and it was awesome to see our role players provide key moments," noted Nihart. "The intensity of the match resulted in a 2017 Top Ten national match for digging! When the last ball dropped we knew we could acknowledge to each other in the offseason we gave 100%! As coaches we were very proud of our team. The last match was one of those contests you can actually enjoy losing with your team!"
Overall the Eagles finished third in the MCCC regular season and second in the year-end tournament. Abby Booth was selected to the MCCC all-conference first team, second team honors to Bekah Smith, and senior Emilie Morton received honorable mention. Booth and Smith were also elected to the NCCAA North All-Region team and the ACCA All-American team. NCCAA and ACCA Scholar Athlete awards were earned by senior Shannon Steffen, and juniors Samantha Betz, Charity Appell, and Karis Geigerich.
Team Accomplishments: The Eagles finished the 2017 campaign nationally ranked 13th in attack %, 12th in assists, 13th in kills, 12th in blocking, and the top 10 digging category. Final 2017 individual national rankings included Emilie Morton 7th in assists and Cara Hodak 7th in digs.
Team Leaders: Team leaders included Abby Booth in total kills and points per set, Bekah Smith in attack % and blocking, Cara Hodak in digging, Jayden Webster in serving aces, and Emilie Morton in assists. Completing her senior year Emilie moved into Eagle volleyball history by becoming the 4th best all-time career assist leader.
In addition to volleyball activities, the 2017 Eagles participated in community service at the local Ankeny Hy-Vee, team discipleship sessions, provided articles of baby clothing for the NCCAA North Regional Christian service project in Watertown, Wisconsin, and volleyball booster fundraising.
- Coach Nihart