SIOUX CITY | One of the first things Beth Donnelly told her volleyball team Wednesday night was not to hang their heads.
Donnelly’s Morningside squad gave eighth-ranked Grand View fits, especially after a 25-17 Game 1 victory in Pool H action at the Tyson Events Center. Morningside fans were smelling a second straight pool-play upset at the NAIA Volleyball Championships, coming on the heels of Tuesday night’s three-game sweep over No. 9 Columbia.
Tournament host Morningside had the Vikings on the ropes again, leading 23-18 late in Game 3. A 25-17 Game 2 winner, Grand View won games three and four by identical scores of 26-24.
“That’s a Top 10 team,” said Donnelly. “They’re eighth in the country. Our girls are mad now. They’re spitting fire. But you know, that’s good. If we were content after that match, then I would be nervous going into tomorrow night.
“I’m not trying to take away anything from Tabor because they’re a phenomenal team. But we’re hungry. We thought we had it tonight. We were excited for it. I’m a little nervous about tomorrow, but I like our team. I think our girls are going to come out with a lot of fire.”
Morningside (19-13) still has a shot to advance into the Round of 16, but it must defeat Tabor (28-10) in the final Pool H match for both teams. The match will begin at 6 o’clock. Tabor, incidentally, fell in four games to Grand View Tuesday night and was facing Columbia as this edition of the Sioux City Journal went to press.
Jenn Buyert had 16 kills and three block assists for the Mustangs while Emma Gerber and Brittni Olson added 12 and 11 kills, respectively. Setter Callie Alberico finished with 45 assists, 14 digs and three block assists.
Nikki Oberfoell paced the Mustangs with 25 digs. Jayde Bergmann contributed 13 digs, five kills and two ace serves.
Kelsey Redmond and Erin Wenzel each slammed 15 kills for Grand View (33-7, 2-0 Pool H). Setter Trystin Lunekas contributed 45 assists, 14 digs and seven block assists while Jordyn Rittman had 22 digs to pace the Heart of America Athletic Conference regular-season champions.
Courtney Twit added 14 kills for the Vikings, but found herself blocked twice by Olson, a former Sergeant Bluff-Luton High School standout in the latter stages of Game 3. Olson’s kill then produced the 23-18 lead.
Redmond had three straight kills, then a Morningside hitting error forced a 23-23 tie. Wenzel closed the third set with a kill.
“We had a good chunk and we just could not get out of that rotation,” said Donnelly. “I burned up a couple of time outs. It’s just one of those things where the ball fell for them and it didn’t fall for us. I liked it when we finally did side out. Our girls weren’t timid. They were still swinging hard and playing defense.
“Volleyball is such a fickle sport. We all know that. It’s a game of nothing but failures and you have to get used to failing and bounce back from it. I think we did, many, many times tonight. Now, it’s just a matter if we do it tomorrow night or not.”