ICC volleyball team headed back to nationals

EAST PEORIA — The Illinois Central College volleyball team is headed back to nationals.

The Cougars (32-10) beat Lincoln Land in four games to win the NJCAA Central B District championship match Saturday at Ramsey Gym.

“I’m so happy for these girls to be able to go,” first-year ICC coach Tracy Heffren told Alex Staab after the match. ” … I’m so happy for them, and excited.”

ICC, ranked No. 6 nationally, advances to the NJCAA Division II national tournament scheduled for Nov. 21-23 in Charleston, W. Va. Seeding for the finals is scheduled to be released 1 p.m. Tuesday.

Alivia West led ICC with 18 kills and six blocks, while Courtney Heffren added 16 digs and 10 kills as both were named to the all-district team.

Halle Sheley added 11 kills for the Cougars, while Maddie McCunn had 33 assists and Kalli Terrell 12 digs.

“I think we played well,” Sheley said. “The sets were on, the passes were on and the hits were on, so it all came together.”

Earlier Saturday, the Cougars beat Rend Lake 25-18, 25-12, 25-9 to advance to the championship match. In the semi, West led ICC with 14 kills and six blocks. McCunn had 25 assists, while Terrell added six digs and three aces.

This is the 30th national tournament appearance for ICC, which had last made nationals in 2014. The gap between that season and this appearance was the longest drought in program history.