OMAHA, NEB. – Wednesday, Oct. 2, was a roller-coaster day for the Morningside College women’s volleyball team.
On one side, the Mustangs cracked the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics top 25, having acquired enough votes to take the 25th ranking, and senior Emma Gerber (SR/Worthington, MN) reached the 1,000 career kill mark. On the other, the Maroon fell to College of Saint Mary in Great Plains Athletic Conference volleyball action in five sets, 25-27, 28-26, 22-25, 25-22, and 15-13.
Morningside and CSM set the tone for the night in set one, locked in battle from the very beginning. Neither team had more than a three-point lead through the entire set.
Set two saw the Flames quickly build a three-point cushion that the Mustangs wouldn’t wholly erase until the scores reached 23 each. Morningside reached set point at 26-25, but couldn’t capitalize, only to let the set slip away, 28-26.
Morningside again fell behind early in set three, erasing the deficit before either team reached double digits this time. They didn’t take the lead for good until breaking a 22-22 tie, holding CSM scoreless from there. It was in set three that Gerber reached her milestone kill, having needed nine on the night.
In set four, the Mustangs drew first blood but again fell behind, reaching even ground at 16-16. They took a 20-17 lead shortly after that, but couldn’t suppress the Flames, who came roaring back to heat things at 21-21 before claiming the eventual victory at 25-22.
Set five was more of the same, with both teams trading points throughout the first half. CSM held a 7-5 lead, looking to switch sides, but Morningside matched them at seven points each. The Flames broke the tie, leading until the Mustangs again tied things up at 12 and 13 points, eventually winning the deciding set.
Krista Zenk (JR/Le Mars, IA) led the Mustangs’ attack with 17 kills. Gerber, who has Morningside’s highest active career kill count at 1,007, had 16 while hitting .375. Kaelyn Giefer (SO/Loveland, CO) had 12 kills, and Brittni Olson (SR/Sioux City, IA) had nine. Callie Alberico (SR/Fort Calhoun, NE) tallied 48 assists, taking sole setting duties following a player injury. The Mustangs lone service ace belonged to Rylie Muhlbauer (JR/Manning, IA).
Defensively, Kayla Harris (SO/Dakota City, NE) again led the team in digs, picking up 20. Alberico had 13, Ashley Boer (JR/Rock Rapids, IA) had 12, and Merrin Van Velzen (JR/Sergeant Bluff, IA) had 10. Olson had nine blocks, including two solo shut-downs, Gerber had three, including one solo, and Caitlin Makovicka (JR/Ceresco, NE) chipped in on three of the team’s total 12 blocks.
Morningside takes an 11-5 record, 3-4 in the conference, into Saturday’s home match with Doane. The Mustangs and Tigers will square off at in Allee Gym, with varsity schedule for 3:00 p.m., following a 1:30 p.m. JV match.