Regular season finale goes four sets
SIOUX CITY, IOWA – Morningside College turned a tricky Halloween night Great Plains Athletic Conference match against a game College of Saint Mary side into a treat Wednesday, Oct. 31.
Wrapping up the regular season in winning fashion and locking down host responsibilities and a berth in the 2018 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics’ tournament, head coach Beth Donnelly’s crew, improving to 13-13 overall and 7-9 in the league, played the victor over the Flames 3-1 in women's volleyball action. Morningside's 25-18, 21-25, 25-21, and 25-23 decision secured them a berth in the national tourney for the third straight season.
The Mustangs totaled 64 kills on the night, led by matching contributions of 16 kills from junior Emma Gerber (Worthington, Minn.) and sophomore Krista Zenk (LeMars, Iowa), with hitting percentages of .361 and .351 respectively. Junior Brittni Olson (Sioux City, Iowa) also turned in a double-digit hitting effort, with 14 kills.
The home team collected 79 digs across the evenings four sets, led by freshman Kayla Harris (Dakota City, Neb.), who scooped up a match high 27 attempted kills from the Flames. Merrin Van Velzen, a sophomore from Sergeant Bluff, Iowa, chipped in 14, with sophomore Ashley Boer (Rock Rapids, Iowa) and junior setter Callie Alberico (Fort Calhoun, Neb.) just missing double digits with nine and eight dig efforts.
"Phenomenal," started head coach Beth Donnelly, regarding Harris. "I think that kid gets better and better every set. She's a freshman. She's in a position that's absolutely unasked of a freshman and she's doing it. No problem."
Alberico and freshman Sabrina Creason (Shawnee Mission, Kan.) did the setting for Morningside, with Alberico handing the ball out 24 times and Creason 30 for 54 of the Mustangs' 60 assists in the match.
"I was really impressed with our setters tonight. They did a really good job of establishing the offense early. We got Gerber the ball early. We got Britt the ball early. It opened up some avenues a little bit. Once we got the ball rolling on offense, it just took care of itself," said Donnelly.
The Mustangs put together 10 blocks on the night, with solo contributions from Lauren Rohwer, a freshman from Aurelia, IA, and Zenk. Gerber, Olson, and Caitlin Makovicka, a sophomore outside hitter from Ceresco, Neb., joined Rohwer and Zenk with block assists.
Morningside is headed to the GPAC tournament as the number six seed. They draw a quarterfinal round 7:00 p.m. match at Hastings College’s Lynn Farrell Arena on Sat., Nov. 3, courtesy of a three-way tie at the second spot in the conference standings.