The College of Saint Mary continued its torrid postseason volleyball run Wednesday night at the expense of Midland University.
The 23rd-ranked Flames swept the No. 21 Warriors 29-27, 28-26, 25-20 in the semifinals of the Great Plains Athletic Conference Tournament. Saint Mary, the eighth-seed in the league tournament, knocked off No. 1 Northwestern Saturday before beating the fourth-seeded Warriors. Now the Flames will look to beat second-seeded Jamestown in the championship game at 7 Saturday night in North Dakota.
“They are as hot as any team there is,” Midland coach Paul Giesselmann said. “You don’t beat the No. 1 team in the country at their place and then come in here tonight and win if you’re not. The thing that I’m really impressed with CSM and what Rick (Pruett) has done with them is that they outwork people. Their effort was better than ours tonight. There is no sugar coating it.”
It was a night of lost opportunities for the Warriors. They had a lead of 21-16 in the opening set and an 18-11 advantage in the second, but couldn’t close out either set.
“The difference in the match were those leads in games one and two that we squandered,” Giesselmann said. “We made errors and the last four points of each game they simply played fearless and with more confidence than we did. That is the part I’m most disappointed with about our team. We were in position to win ... we just didn’t respond in the way that we usually do.”
Shelby Bretschneider’s kill gave MU the 21-16 lead in the opening set, but the Flames went on a 6-1 run that was capped by an Alicia Hogan kill to tie it at 22.
The Warriors forced set point following a kill by Maggie Hiatt and a CSM hitting error, but the Flames tied in on a pair of kills by Amber Anderson. They eventually closed the set on a kill by Kamryn Willman.
Hiatt’s kill put Midland up 18-11 in the second game, but the Flames rallied. MU still led 23-20 on a combined block by Maddie Wieseler and Sydney Morehouse, but CSM staved off a pair of set points and won it on a Willman kill.
Midland trailed 8-6 in the third set, but consecutive kills by Bretschneider, Hiatt and Brooke Fredrickson gave the Warriors a 9-8 edge. After a tie at 12, the Flames went on an 8-2 run to take control.
The Flames outhit MU .171 to .085. CSM recorded 45 kills compared to 40 for the Warriors.
“They (the Flames) played very well, but in reality we played scared,” Midland freshman setter Bree Burtwistle, who finished with a team-best 20 set assists said. “That is what caused us to get swept.”
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Hiatt led MU with 11 kills while Fredrickson added eight. Senior Taylor Petersen contributed seven. Freshman setter Hope Leimbach had 18 assists while Jaisa Russell and Taliyah Flores had 11 digs apiece.
Morehouse finished with six assisted blocks and Wieseler had five.
Anderson led the Flames with 15 kills while Willman and Elizabeth Dlouhy had eight each. Alexis Petry had 21 set assists and Natalie Patten contributed 20.
The Warriors, 19-10, will find out Monday if they receive an invitation to the national tournament. The top 19 teams as well as the host school receive bids to the Sioux City, Iowa, tournament. The other 24 schools will play an opening round game to determine the final 12 teams for competing at the Tyson Event Center.
Giesselmann said the Warriors have competed well in the deepest conference in the nation.
“We should have enough on our resume to get an opening-round bid.,” he said. “We’ve battled hard all year. Our players just came up short tonight.”
College of Saint Mary def. Midland 29-27,28-26,25-20
College of Saint Mary (24-13) (Kills-aces-blocks) — Amber Anderson 15-0-3, Elizabeth Dlouhy 8-0-6, Kamryn Willman 8-0-6, Makenna Freeman 7-0-2, Alicia Hogan 6-0-1, Daryn Willman 1-0-4, Totals 45-0-12.0. (Assists)—Alexis Petry 21, Natalie Patten 20. (Dig leaders)—Payton Robley 13, Freeman 13
Midland (19-10) (Kills-aces-blocks) — Maggie Hiatt 11-0-2, Brooke Fredrickson 8-0-2, Taylor Petersen 7-0-1, Sydney Morehouse 5-0-6, Shelby Bretschneider 5-0-2, Maddie Wieseler 4-0-5, Kaitlynn Simon 0-1-0 Hope Leimbach, 0-1-0 Totals 40-2-9.5. (Assists) — Bree Burtwistle 20, Leimbach 18. (Dig leaders)—Taliyah Flores 11, Jaisa Russell 11