SIOUX CITY, Iowa — Make it two-for-two for the Midland University volleyball team at the NAIA tournament.
The Lady Warriors won their second pool match in as many days on Wednesday with a 25-22, 31-29, 25-20 victory over Saint Xavier (Illinois) at the Tyson Events Center.
“We weren’t as sharp today overall as we were yesterday,” Midland coach Paul Giesselmann said. “We didn’t pass as well, but some of that had to do with Saint Xavier being a really good serving team. They caused us some problems, but I thought we found ways at the end of each game to make big plays. That was the difference tonight.”
Midland is now assured of advancing to Friday’s single-elimination tournament. The Lady Warriors and Westmont (California) are both 2-0 in Pool F and will play at 4 Thursday afternoon. Saint Xavier and Marian (Indiana) are 0-2. The top two teams in each of the eight pools advance to the Round of 16.
Midland trailed 4-3 in the opening set before opening up a 21-15 advantage. Saint Xavier used three kills from Bridget Krasowski to help pull within 22-21, but two service errors and a hitting error by the Cougars helped MU close the set.
In the second game, Midland led 24-21 before Krasowski’s kill started a 4-0 run by the Cougars. The Lady Warriors staved off three set points before closing out the game.
“We’ve got players like Jess (Peters), (Jessica) Nekl and Jenny Bair that have been down here before,” Giesselmann said. “I think our kids handled that game pressure better. Having that type of experience was the difference.”
Giesselmann said taking a 2-0 set advantage was crucial. He told the Lady Warriors not to let up in the third game.
“I felt if we could get on them in game 3 and keep the pressure on them we could close it out,” he said. “It was a big mental lift for us to win that second game and a tough one to lose for Saint Xavier.”
The Lady Warriors jumped to a 10-3 lead in the third game. Although the Cougars closed the gap to 12-11, Midland responded with a 5-1 run to extend the advantage.
Junior middle blocker Priscilla O’Dowd had 13 kills, two solo blocks and five block assists to lead MU. The Lady Warriors had 12 total blocks.
“That was huge,” Giesselmann said. “Saint Xavier has some balance with their hitters. I think our girls knew they had to play better at the net today and they did.”
Bair had seven kills while Taylor Petersen had six. Freshman Sydney Morehouse hit .556 and delivered five kills. Shelby Bretschneider also had five kills.
Peters, a junior setter, had 32 set assists and 15 digs. Nekl, a senior libero, had 13 digs while O’Dowd had 12. Mackenzie Wecker finished with 10.
Kate Bontrager led the Cougars with 15 kills and Krasowski contributed nine.