Parkland volleyball’s bid for national title falls short in championship match


CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (WCIA) — The stage was all too familiar for the Parkland volleyball team. The second-seeded Cobras have played for a NJCAA D-II National Championship seven out of the last eight seasons and unfortunately for the Cobras, the result was more of the same. For the third straight time, Parkland finished runner-up, losing to No. 4 seed Johnson County 3-1 (16-25, 25-22, 18-25, 19-25) Thursday night at the Alliant Energy Power House Arena.

“This team was not our most refined and not our best team we’ve had but man were they workers,” Parkland head coach Cliff Hastings said. “They worked hard, they really put in the effort to be to this point and I’m really proud of that.”

After losing the first set by nine, the Cobras (33-2) rallied back to take the second by three. The Cavaliers rattled off back-to-back games though to win the match in four. Six WCIA 3 viewing area natives suited up for the Cobras, including Mattoon native Summerlyn Smith, who was named to the All-Tournament team, posting 44 assists and 7 digs in the title match. Williamsville grad Jayden Sortor had 15 kills and 4 blocks on a .609 hitting percentage. Halle Everett (15 kills, 5 blocks) combined for 30 kills.

“It would have been nice to win but it was just really fun coming out here and getting to compete with everyone, sorry I lost my voice but the atmosphere was great, it was just awesome.”

St. Thomas More grad Kayla Brandon (18 digs) anchored a back line that gathered 49 digs with contributions from Brittney Litton (9 digs), Smith, and Isabella Classen (6 digs, 1 ace). 

Everett and Sortor combined for 9 blocks, as Arika Richardson (9 kills, 3 blocks) and Unity grad Katie Kaiser (3 blocks) combined for an additional six. 

As a team, Parkland was held to an .182 attack percentage, while Johnson County hit .275 as team.

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