Katilyn Steffes, Sara Horn and several other members of national tournament qualifier Iowa Central were honored by the ICCAC for their volleyball efforts in 2022.
Steffes was named the conference player of the year, Horn earned coach of the year status, and Jori Hajek joined Steffes on the first team.
Brooke Dobson and Mercedes Madlock were named to the second squad, while Kira Matthias made the third team.
The Tritons claimed another league regular season championship and earned a third consecutive bid to the national tourney, where they placed seventh after defeating Kirkwood in their final match.
“Postseason honors are always a great reminder of how good our individual players are,” Horn said. “The entire season, as well as the postseason, we are focused on how our team does and what we need to do for the team. While this is the most important thing, it is still important that we celebrate our individuals as well.
“Our team has 20 amazing players, and the five who were honored with all-conference and region awards have really stood out and have shown that they are among the best — not only in our conference, but in the country.”
Steffes, a third-year player, leads the nation in kills with 713, kills per set with 5.37 and kill percentage at .311. The returning All-American had double-digit kill performances in every match but one this fall and went over 20 in 18 matches with a high of 32.
Steffes becomes the fourth Iowa Central player to secure the highest honor in the league, joining current assistant coach Gabby Sullivan, Amaya Finley and Alesha Johnson.
“You just can’t say enough about KT,” Horn said. “KT will leave here as our career kill leader, season kill leader, kills per set leader and have multiple entries into the most kills per match category. She is statistically the best attacker to ever play at Iowa Central, and that is saying a lot with the amazing players that have gone through this program.
“The amount of growth we’ve seen out of KT over the past three years has been amazing, and we are just so proud of not only all that she has accomplished, but of who she is as a person. We adore her and are so excited to see what she does after leaving Iowa Central.”
Hajek, a sophomore from Humboldt, ranked 10th in the conference in total kills and sixth in digs with 561, which was tops among all non-liberos.
“Jori and KT were voted as the No. 1 and No. 2 players in our conference, and the coaches were spot on,” Horn said. “As good as KT is in the front row, Jori is that good in the back. Add to her defense and passing skills her ability to contribute attacking and blocking, mixed in with her ability to be a top notch setter, and you have the most complete volleyball player in all of NJCAA. Jori is so, so fun to watch play, but she’s even more fun to coach and to have a part of your team. This girl is and will be a star in anything she puts her mind to and we’re so honored that we’ve gotten to have her as a part of our program the last two years.
“Brooke is our quiet leader. When teams focus all of their defensive efforts on KT, Brooke sneaks in there. Mercedes had the impossible task of replacing the two-time player of the year (Alesha Johnson), but when I asked if she was ready to take over the offense, she didn’t even hesitate. Kira is the type of player every single coach loves to have on their team as a captain, a 4.0 student and a fantastic teammate.”
Horn earned the Div. II league coach of the year title for a fifth consecutive season. Iowa Central has won 25 straight conference matches over Div. II opponents. They were 36-7 overall and ranked fifth in 2022.
“Coach of the year award is really a program award,” Horn said. The coach who wins coach of the year has the best team and the best staff, and that is what we have here at Iowa Central. I am blessed to be around incredible athletes every day. I have the best assistant in the country in Gabby Sullivan. And I have an amazing administration and support staff that makes doing my job easy.
“We are surrounded by excellence every day here with the other athletic teams, top notch performing arts programs and faculty and staff who love their jobs. Iowa Central is really the best place to work, and I am so thankful to be here.”
Hajek and Steffes were named first team all-Region XI-A, while Dobson, Matthias and Madlock made the second. Matthias, Dobson, Hajek and Steffes made the all-region tournament squad, with Steffes being named tourney MVP.
Kirkwood’s Ava Morris was named the freshman of the year.
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