CEDAR RAPIDS — A lot of teams might have folded under similar circumstances.
"We knew were up in the third set, but we just didn't finish," Kirkwood freshman Anna Gorsich said after the No. 19 Eagles rallied past No. 11 Iowa Central, 24-26, 25-18, 29-31, 25-18, 15-9, in an Iowa Community College Athletic Conference volleyball match Wednesday night at Johnson Hall. "So we really just focused on working our hardest to finish and not give up."
With the match tied at a set apiece, the Eagles had six cracks at claiming Set 3, but were turned away each time by the defending ICCAC champions. Iowa Central (23-4, 5-1) faced third-set deficits of 21-16, 23-18 and 24-20, but rallied for the coveted 2-1 lead in the match.
"We have really been working on our identity," Kirkwood Coach Jill Williams said. "Even though we dropped that set, the confidence was there and they found themselves again."
Kirkwood (19-9, 3-3 ICCAC) responded to the Set 3 disappointment by jumping all over the Tritons in the final two sets, which the Eagles never trailed. Gorsich led Kirkwood with a season-high 22 kills and added 16 digs in possibly the best performance of a fantastic freshman season for the Linn-Mar graduate.
"It gives us a lot of confidence and it helps us to believe that we can go very far," Gorsich said.
Former Cedar Rapids Xavier prep Olivia Richards posted four ace serves and 16 digs in her return to the lineup from a brief injury, while sophomore libero Maranda Wheelock collected a team-high 20 digs.
Sophomore setter Magi Wagaman, who played high school volleyball at Springville, chipped in 35 assists.
"That is a great win for us, but we know we have to be playing our best in the next three weeks," Williams said. "The likelihood is we can face them again and it can be another battle just like that. Again, it was about us and how we were playing and us defining what it was we could do. This is going to help that confidence moving forward."