116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS - The No. 5 Kirkwood Eagles defeated No. 7 DMACC, 3-1 (25-16, 25-16, 22-25, 25-23), Tuesday night at Johnson Hall in the Region XI-B final to move one match closer to a berth in the NJCAA II tournament, held in Cedar Rapids on April 13-15 at the Alliant PowerHouse Arena.
Next the Eagles will face Iowa Central, who defeated Hawkeye Community College, 3-1 (24-26, 25-17, 25-19, 25-14) in the Region XI-A final. The winner advances to the national tournament next month.
Winning consistently, in all sports, has helped Kirkwood recruit local athletes with championship pedigree, including sophomore Rachael Nelson who 'learned how to win and lose at Solon.”
'I had great coaches,” Nelson said, 'so I learned the ups and downs of the game pretty quick.”
The great leadership that Eagles head coach Jill Williams has provided at the next level for local athletes over the last 16 years also continues to impact players like Nelson, as they prepare to become influential in their students' lives themselves.
'On my visit, I absolutely loved the campus and my coaches,” Nelson said. 'I felt so at home with my teammates.”
Now Nelson is preparing to graduate and move on to a four-year school, where she plans on continuing her volleyball career before becoming an elementary school teacher.
'I'd like to go back and teach at Solon,” Nelson said. 'Be either a head coach or an assistant for volleyball. I definitely want to be involved in the game.”
She also knows she'd like to teach kindergarten.
'They're still young and don't really know how to talk back yet and you're one of the biggest influences in their life,” Nelson said. 'I love the idea of that.”
Even though Nelson has been surrounded by positive influences, her biggest are her parents Todd and Stephanie.
'My parents have taught me everything I know about hard work,” Nelson said.
She's not alone either, as the Eagles believe they have what it takes to make an even deeper run into the postseason - they sit just four victories from another national title.
'I knew coming into the year we had a lot of talent,” Nelson said. 'We just needed to learn how to apply it.
'We're still waiting on our other banner to be put up and we're ready to see two up there.”