SIOUX CITY, IOWA – The Mustangs needed a win Thursday, Dec. 5, in order to RSVP for their spot in the Round of 16 in the 2019 NAIA Women’s Volleyball National Championship presented by Marriott South Sioux City Riverfront. That win escaped them in the concluding round of pool play, as they lost a competitive five-set struggle with the Argonauts of the University of Providence, 18-25, 25-23, 13-25, 25-20, and 16-14.
“In between sets three and four, I reminded the girls that we were here 24 hours ago. We were up 2-1, going into the fourth, and we got complacent,” head coach Beth Donnelly explained. She continued, “We know that in this tournament, just like any other one, when you’re playing to stay alive, it’s like you find miracles all of a sudden.”
The Mustangs went on to play the Stars from Oklahoma City University in a single-set, 25-point tiebreak match after Oklahoma City defeated Providence in an identical tiebreaker. The Mustangs were unable to punch their ticket to Friday’s bracket play in the wee hours of the morning. That tiebreaker does not affect the team’s season record.
Morningside was led on the floor by Sabrina Creason (SO/Shawnee Mission, KS), who collected all 60 of the Mustangs’ assists en route to 18 kills for Caitlin Makovicka (JR/Ceresco, NE), 16 for Krista Zenk (JR/Le Mars, IA), and 12 to Emma Gerber (SR/Worthington, MN) to round out the Morningsiders with double-digit kills.
“Once Caitlin gets on fire, she’s tough to stop,” commented Donnelly. “There were a couple of balls that she missed down the wire. You could split hairs with how far she hit that ball out of bounds; it was so close.”
The Mustangs defensive efforts were championed at the net by Brittni Olson (SR/Sioux City, IA), with two solo blocks and five block assists, adding to her already history-making career total. Kayla Harris (SO/Dakota City, NE) averaged 6.8 digs per set tonight, adding another impressive total of 34 to her week’s work. Ashley Boer (JR/Rock Rapids, IA) and Merrin Van Velzen (JR/Sergeant Bluff, IA) picked up 14 digs apiece, Creason had 12, and Madison Hartman (SR/Morgan Hill, CA) had 11.
Morningside ends its season 17-13, having competed in the NAIA National Championship for the fourth consecutive year.