Tenth-ranked Lourdes came back from a 2-1 deficit to defeat Morningside in Wednesday’s pool play action at the NAIA Volleyball National Championship.
Ashley Vande Stouwe
Just when it looked like the Mustangs could be headed for a second straight upset triumph, 10th-ranked Lourdes battled back from a 2-1 deficit to hand Morningside a 25-17, 19-25, 13-25, 25-23, 15-9 defeat in Wednesday’s pool play action in the NAIA Volleyball National Championship at Sioux City’s Tyson Events Center/Gateway Arena.
The Mustangs, who shocked No. 7 Park University in Tuesday’s opening day of national tournament pool play, appeared to take control of the match when they stomped the Grey Wolves 25-13 in the third set to go up 2-1 before their opponent rebounded.
Morningside will wrap up pool play with a match against No. 23 Corban University on Thursday at 5 p.m. The top two teams from each pool will advance to a 16-team single-elimination bracket to be played Friday and Saturday. All four teams in the Mustangs’ pool will take 1-1 records into Thursday’s action.
Wednesday’s loss overshadowed some superlative performances by the Mustangs’ middle blocker duo of Ashley Vande Stouwe and Brittni Olson. Vande Stouwe led the Mustangs with 15 kills and had only two attack errors in 28 attempts to finish with a .464 hitting percentage. Olson also had only two attack errors and finished with 11 kills in 22 attempts for a .409 hitting percentage.
Mustang outside hitters Jayde Bergmann and Jenn Buyert each added 14 kills to the Mustangs’ attack.
Freshman setter Callie Alberico dealt a match-high 56 assists to go along with a team-high 21 digs and two ace serves.
Nikki Oberfoell and Taylor Ferguson also had two ace serves.
Aside from Alberico’s 21 digs, the Mustangs’ also received double figure performances from Morgan Gourley with 15 digs, Katie Kuck with 13, and Jessica Becker with 10.
Molly Shonk, a third-team NAIA All-American last year, led the Lourdes’ attack with 17 kills. Stephanie Ruffing, a returning second-team All-American, was next with 13 kills.
Morningside came out strong when kills by Bergmann, Vande Stouwe and Buyert followed by an ace serve by Alberico gave the Mustangs an early 4-0 lead in the first set. The Mustangs led 6-2 after another kill by Vande Stouwe before the Grey Wolves went on a 9-1 scoring run to take an 11-7 lead en route to a 25-17 opening set triumph.
The Mustangs attacked at a respectable .211 clip in the opening set, but that was no match against a Lourdes team that pounded 17 kills while attacking at a productive .417 pace. Ave Stout led the Lourdes attack with five kills, while All-Americans Ruffing and Shonk each added four terminations.
Morningside got off to another fast start with some help from Lourdes to take an early 5-0 lead in the second set. Morgan Gourley had an ace serve for the Mustangs, while Lourdes provided four of the points with a service error and three attack errors. After a .417 hitting percentage in the first set, the Lourdes’ attack went south in the second set when the team committed 11 attack errors en route to a miniscule .048 hitting percentage.
The Grey Wolves caught the Mustangs at 7-7 on a kill by Shonk and took their first lead at 8-7 on a combined block by Shonk and Stout.
The Mustangs answered when an ace serve by Alberico capped an 8-3 scoring run that put Morningside in front by a 15-10 margin.
Morningside eventually capped a 25-19 second set triumph when Vande Stouwe hammered a kill for the set winner to give her kills on six of her first eight swings of the match.
The Mustangs turned the third set into a rout. Eleven of the Mustangs’ first 14 attack attempts of the set resulted in kills when they ran the Grey Wolves off the court 25-13 while attacking at a furious .500 clip for the set.
Lourdes, this year’s co-champions of the Wolverine-Hooiser Athletic Conference, weren’t finished, however, and stormed back to take a 14-9 lead in the fourth set when their first 21 attack attempts produced nine kills without an error. The Grey Wolves eventually won 25-23 to force a fifth set.
The Mustangs fell behind 5-3 early in the final set before they tied the score at 7-7 after back-to-back kills by Morgan Whitehead and Buyert.
Lourdes took the lead for good at 8-7 on a kill by Ruffing to start a run where it outscored the Mustangs 8-2 to close out the match.