SIOUX CITY, IOWA – The scoreline read a three-set sweep for second-ranked Park University of Missouri Tuesday, Nov. 27.
However, Morningside College head coach Beth Donnelly saw something more out of a hard-nosed effort from her young team during night one of the 2018 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletic Championships’ tournament.
“(Sophomore outside hitter) Krista (Zenk of LeMars, Iowa) and (junior middle blocker) Brittni (Olson of Sioux City, Iowa) were both playing very well up front … keeping us in sets and helping us rally back into contention,” Donnelly noted. “We had some areas we struggled with, which included starting slow. I told the team afterward if we would have started the match the way we finished, we might still be playing.”
Despite the 25-20, 25-14, 26-24 defeat that sent the Maroon to 13-15 on the season, Morningside College fans in attendance saw their charges battle the highly-touted Pirates tooth and nail. Mside had the first set tie at a couple of occasions and led 9-8 early before Park managed to put together a late run. The second set saw the Pool B’s top seed breakaway midway through, but the final set got the host school crowd to its feet thinking of a possible fourth set and continued play deep into the late November night. The Mustangs rallied back and led 24-23, but the juggernaut front row attack of Park’s Meawad Nada and Roper Maren, which produced 27 kills and only five errors, led a three-point run to close out the match.
Zenk did a little bit of everything for the Mustangs. She registered a double-double with 14 kills and 15 digs, hit a robust .231, put up an assist and was also credited with a block assist. Olson finished with seven kills and only one error in 25 attempts for a .240 attack percentage, and sophomore outside hitter Caitlin Makovicka (SO/Ceresco, NE) (Ceresco, Neb.) was also strong offensively with six kills, a .238 attack percentage, three assists, and nine digs.
“(Park) hits hard but low and flat, so you can’t cheat up against them like we’ve been able to do in other matches,” Donnelly pointed out. “We had to keep our back row disciplined on their spots instead of creeping in which was tough at times. I’m pleased overall, as we serve received well, which had been an Achilles heel off, and on this year, and with four freshmen coming in and out throughout the match, I thought we represented our program and Morningside well.” Adding to the statistical positives and proving their head coach’s comments about the team’s back row play, junior setter Callie Alberico (JR/Fort Calhoun, NE) (Fort Calhoun, Neb.) compiled a double-double of a different kind with 28 assists and 10 digs and freshman defensive specialist/libero Kayla Harris (FR/Dakota City, NE) (Dakota City, Neb.) added a team-leading 17 digs.
The Maroon resume pool play Wednesday, Nov. 28, against Westmont College of California. First serve is scheduled for 7 p.m.