SIOUX CITY, Iowa—For the third time in program history, No. 12 Midland University volleyball is heading to the NAIA Volleyball National Semifinals behind a 3-1 win over No. 5 Northwestern College on Thursday night. Midland took the match by scores of 25-18, 15-25, 25-20, 25-17 in front of a loyal Warrior crowd at the Tyson Event Center.
Midland hit .250 for the match versus .191 for Northwestern. The teams were elite defensively with Midland holding a 79-69 advantage in digs. Maggie Hiatt had a career day with 19 kills on 41 attacks (.439) with Taliyah Flores following the 15 kills. Flores also picked up 18 digs for her third double-double in as many days and her 14th of the year. Jaisa Russell led the team with 19 digs while Brooke Fredrickson had 13 digs along with a career-high six blocks. Hope Leimbach was steady all match long, notching 51 assists and nine digs.
Set One (25-18)
Things were going right for the Warriors as the team jumped out to a 6-0 lead to force an early timeout. The run was highlighted by tough serving and defense from Katlin Simon as well as disciplined play at the net. Northwestern surged back to pull tie the score at 7-7 before Brooke Fredrickson found a kill on a sharp cross-court shot. The Red Raiders continued to pursue a lead through the midway point of the set, but Midland’s balanced attack countered every charge. Midland saw a 14-11 lead dwindle momentarily, but a side out kill from Taliyah Flores found space down the line for a 15-13 advantage. The Warriors were the first to reach the 20-point mark when Maggie Hiatt sent one deep corner to bring things to 20-17. Lauryn Samuelson found a pair of kills and a solo block down the stretch to capture the 25-18 set one win.
Midland’s offense was efficient in the set, hitting at a .394 clip while the defensive units held Northwestern to a .207 mark. Samuelson led all players with five kills in the set while Hiatt was good for four kills on six swings (.667). Jaisa Russell came away with five digs while the Warriors out dug the Red Raiders at a 15-9 mark.
Set Two (15-25)
Northwestern was on a mission from the service line, sending flat shots that barely cleared the net and forced Midland into a timeout, trailing 7-3. The Warriors battled back to pull within two, but the Red Raiders answered each pursuit with pressure from a fast-tempo offense to go up 12-8. Northwestern continued to lead through the midway point, finding the court with a variety of smartly-placed shots to go up 18-13. The Red Raiders were relentless in all aspects of the game and tied the match with a dominant 25-15 set win.
Midland hit .156 in the set compared to .343 for Northwestern. Digs were 28-25 after two sets in favor of the Warriors. Hiatt continued to pace the team in efficiency with six kills at a .545 mark.
Set Three (25-20)
Early errors on both sides of the net resulted in a 5-5 score before the Warriors earned a one-point advantage on a Northwestern miscue. The Warriors found an 8-6 lead when Hiatt sent one off the block for her third kill of the set. The Red Raiders fired back to claim a 10-9 lead on a service ace before Flores earned her 8th kill of the night for the narrow lead. Midland’s lead grew to 17-14 when Hope Leimbach won a joust at the net, bringing Northwestern to call its first timeout of the set. The timeout did nothing to slow the roll as Hiatt placed one deep to her 10th kill and an 18-14 lead. Northwestern burned its final timeout, and this time it paid dividends in the form of a three-point run to pull within a point. The Warriors found a 22-20 lead on a slide kill from Morehouse, and the senior added to the advantage with another just outside the range of the libero. Hiatt sent one through the block to bring on set point, and the duo of Hiatt and Morehouse combined for a block to earn a 25-20 win.
The Warriors turned things around to hit .310 in the set while Northwestern found itself at .258. The Red Raiders pulled ahead in the dig category with 41 to Midland’s 38. Hiatt continued to lead the team with 12 kills on 21 errorless attacks. Flores moved into the double-double category, her 14th of the season, with 11 kills and 10 digs.
Set Four (25-17)
Midland started the set similarly to the first, going up 3-0 on tough serving from Simon, but Northwestern found a side-out answer with a shot down the line. Northwestern rallied to knot things up at 5-5 before an attack error gave Midland another narrow lead. Midland was on the winning end of two monster rallies, stoking the Warrior faithful in the stands to go up 10-8. Northwestern battled back with a five-point run to force a timeout as Midland trailed 13-10. Midland dug deep to take a 14-13 lead before a Red Raider kill halted the run. Ties became the name of the game as the set wore on, but Midland found a slight cushion at 19-17 off a kill from Morehouse to force a Northwestern timeout. Again, the Warriors stayed true out of the break to go up 22-17 on three kills from Hiatt. Hiatt remained unbeatable at the net, earning two kills to move things to match point. Another long rally ensued with the Final Four within reach, and a Red Raider error clinched the win, sending Midland to the national semifinals.
Defense was the game-changer in the set with neither team hitting over .200. Hiatt was Midland’s go-to attack option in the set with seven kills.
Comments from Coach
“Shout out to Northwestern. It’s a class program with a terrific coach,” said head coach Paul Giesselmann after the match. “That senior class they have is as talented of a senior class as we’ve seen in the GPAC in a long time.”
“I’m so proud of our team. On October 7, we were 2-5 and we were driving a bus with flat tires. The kids kept believing and hung in there. 204 days later, we’re moving on to the final four.”
Midland (15-9) moves on to the NAIA National Tournament Semifinal match where the team will face No. 1 Jamestown University for the third time this season. First serve between the Warriors and Jimmies will be at 5:00 p.m. Three teams representing the Great Plains Athletic Conference have advanced to tomorrow’s semifinal round with No. 16 Dordt University set to take on No. 6 Missouri Baptist at 7:30 p.m.