The annual Kirkwood Invitational kicked off the weekend in Johnson hall the weekend of September 8th and 9th. The invitational this year had some of the best teams in the country including #2 Johnson County, #4 Parkland College, #7 Heartland College, #16 Illinois Central, #17 Lincoln Land, and of course #6 Kirkwood with the matchups not disappointing at all.
On Friday the Eagles started the invitational playing #7 Heartland College where it was a battle from start to finish where the Eagles would start by winning the first set 25-18 and barely winning the second set 25-23. Going into the third set Heartland would respond by winning a back and forth 27-25 and after losing the set the Eagles would end up flying higher winning the fourth set 25-20.
After winning the first game Kirkwood would then go on to play against their toughest competition yet in the tournament matching up against #4 Parkland College. Going into the match sophomore Grace Embreston would make her return after tearing her PCL earlier in preseason but it just simply was not enough as Parkland would win the first set 25-12. After the huge loss in set one Kirkwood would respond by being competitive but ultimately losing sets two and three 25-20 and 25-21 getting swept by Parkland ending day one for Kirkwood.
After the devastating loss to cap off day one the Eagles would immediately go into the next day playing #17 Lincoln Land. This would be Kirkwood’s closest matchup of the tournament where the Eagles got stunned in set one losing 25-21 but Kirkwood would immediately respond by winning sets two and three 25-21 and 25- 20. Immediately after the loggers would win set 4 25-22 forcing a fifth and final set where the Eagles would squeeze by winning the last 15-13.
After the very competitive game against Lincoln Land the Eagles would end up taking a game off to rest and immediately match up with #16 Illinois Central in their final game. In set one the Eagles would win in dominating fashion winning 25-13. Right after Illinois Central would respond with winning the second set 25- 20. After losing the second set the Eagles completely changed their mindsets dominating the last two sets again winning both 25-18 and 25-12 capping off the tournament finishing 3-1.
Head Coach David Brown on why he chose to take the head coaching position at Kirkwood:
It was kind of the right time, right place. My fiance had transferred her residency back to Iowa. So when Kirkwood was open, it was the right move for me. This is a place that you can win. The resources, the way Kirkwood is laid out, and in a city like Cedar Rapids It’s easy to recruit too. All of the people here are amazing from coaches to our athletic director [Doug Wagemester]. It’s been super supportive. [And] so when I interviewed I could kind of feel that, and I knew that this was a place where you could win a national championship and I want to be a part of that cause at the end of the day I think we all coach a little bit because we like winning. So it was part personal and part how great Kirkwood is.
Head Coach David Brown on players who have stepped up as leaders:
The way I do captains is on a week by week basis, I like to give the girls some autonomy each. I pair a freshman and a sophomore together and I think it does the job of them some responsibility and its been working out so far with that. Mikayla Howard, Lilly Van Severen, Sydney Matthias they all have stepped up as freshman. Emma Cross too has also been a big part coming in as a transfer. I will say those three freshman Lilly, Mikayla, and Sydney have definitely came in and made an impact right away especially with our offense so thats been cool to see. I like to give them a little freedom to understand where their role is on the team and they have done a really good job so far.