Briar Cliff’s women’s volleyball team took the first two sets against #3 Grand View on Saturday at the Nebraska Strong Midland Invite in Fremont, Neb., but the Vikings stormed back to win the match. The Chargers were unable to bounce back against the host Warriors in the nightcap as #8 Midland claimed a 3-1 victory to wrap up the event.
The Blue and Gold finished the opening weekend of action 1-2 after picking up a 3-1 victory Friday night against St. Ambrose.
“This early tournament was beneficial to the development of our varsity roster,” head coach Lindsey Weatherford noted. “We applaud Midland for putting on such a well organized event.”
Despite suffering a loss to start day two, the Chargers tallied more points than Grand View in the five setter. After a tight first set that BC took 25-23, the Blue and Gold dominated the second set 25-17. The Vikings would take the next three sets, however, by scores of 25-21, 25-23 and 15-12. The teams were even at 12 points each in the final set, but after a timeout by Grand View the Chargers were never able to get another point.
“Against Grand View we blocked well and some of our key personnel performed very well,” said Weatherford. “We saw great potential in Tyra Blue with 10 kills and six blocks.”
Victoria Gonzalez joined Blue in double-digit kills as she registered a team-high 12. Grace Hanno and Grace Whitlaw each chipped in with seven kills. Whitlaw was the top blocker in the match for BC with seven, including two solo blocks. The Cliff doubled up Grand View in blocks, 14-7. Grand View was held to an attack percentage of just .057. Briar Cliff finished with a swing rate of .085 as Blue finished with the best percentage among attackers at .280.
Grand View was led in kills by Alexa Aldrich-Ingram with 17. Trysten Luneckas finished with 38 of her team’s 51 assists.
Briar Cliff looked to jump out against another ranked opponent in the second match and scored the first three points of the match, but Midland responded well and after a 6-0 run midway through the first set the Warriors went on to take set one 25-20. The next two sets were pretty evenly matched with Midland taking the second 25-22 and BC taking the third 25-23, but the Chargers ran out of gas in set four as Midland cruised 25-16 to end the contest.
Despite being GPAC foes, the match against Midland was a nonconference affair. It was a good measuring stick for BC as the Chargers were selected 11th out of 12 teams in the league’s preseason coaches’ poll while Midland claimed the second spot.
“The match showed that we need to be more consistent in many areas in order to contend in the GPAC,” Weatherford said.
Gonzalez and Hanno each had good contributions for the Blue and Gold as Gonzalez once again led the team in kills with 11 and Hanno added nine with an attack percentage of .400. Briar Cliff outblocked Midland 9-6 in the contest, led by Whitlaw’s seven blocks.
Maggie Hiatt proved to be the difference maker for the Warriors, finishing with 25 kills and a swing rate of .455. Bree Burtwistle also proved to be an issue for BC as she tallied seven of her team’s 14 aces. Burtwistle finished with more aces on her own than all of the Chargers (6).
The losses moved Briar Cliff to 1-2 on the season. The team returns to action in another tournament hosted by a GPAC team next week at the Red Raider Classic in Orange City, Iowa. The Chargers have two matches on Friday as they take on Wayland Baptist at 12:30 p.m. and Baker at 3:30 p.m. Then BC will have one match on Saturday against #19 Corban with first serve scheduled for 11 a.m.