SIOUX CITY, Iowa – No. 12 Midland University Volleyball’s impeccable run at the NAIA National Tournament continued on Friday night as the Warriors stunned No. 1 University of Jamestown, 21-25, 26-24, 30-28, 25-12, to advance to the NAIA National Championship Match for the first time in program history. Midland has gone 4-0 in the postseason, dropping only two sets along the way, to improve to 16-9 on the year. Jamestown ends the year with a record of 30-2.
Midland battled back from early offensive woes to outhit the Jimmies .127 to .119. Jamestown was a force at the net with 13 total blocks versus Midland’s six, but Midland was elite behind the service line with a season-high 11 aces. Four players reached double-digit kills for Midland with Taliyah Flores‘ 14 leading the charge. Flores also picked up 16 digs for her 15th double-double of the season. Brooke Fredrickson and Sydney Morehouse followed with 11 kills apiece. Fredrickson’s serve was tough to handle from start to finish as the junior registered four aces. Jaisa Russell had another clutch performance in the backrow with 19 digs and dependable serve receive. Hope Leimbach was steady as always from the setting position, dishing out 46 assists to go along with 13 digs.
Set One (21-25)
Jamestown got out to a 5-2 lead behind tough serving before a roll shot from Taliyah Flores put Midland behind by two. The Warriors pulled within one, but a four-point run saw the score at 8-4 in favor of the Jimmies. Midland was down 13-9 before Maggie Hiatt earned a kill on the right side to get within three. Jamestown had an immediate side out answer, sending a kill through the block to reclaim a sizeable lead. The Warriors were forced to use a timeout as the team trailed 15-11, and the meeting did its job with the team pulling within two at 16-14. The Warriors fought to tie the set at 18-18, but Jamestown quickly worked back to a 20-18 advantage. Again, Midland found an answer, knotting things at 20-20 after a kill from Flores. Jamestown reclaimed a 24-21 lead and used its fifth block of the set to close things out.
Hitting errors were the difference in the set with Midland committing 12 to Jamestown’s three. Much of the offensive trouble can be credited to Jamestown’s block which was stout from first serve. Taliyah Flores led the Warriors with four kills on 12 attacks.
Set Two (26-24)
It was a similar start to set one with Jamestown taking a 5-3 lead, but a Jamestown error had Midland within one. The lead continued to stand, but Midland was never too far behind with a block from Lauryn Samuelson and Brooke Fredrickson moving the score to 9-8. Jaisa Russell rocketed a pair of aces to tie the score at 11-11, but Jamestown was able to side out to keep the Warriors from a lead. The Jimmies continued to win the side out battle which didn’t allow for any Midland scoring runs as an 18-14 lead led to a Warrior timeout. The lead remained with the Jimmies, but a kill from Fredrickson and ace from Kaitlynn Simon saw Midland within two at 20-18. Fredrickson continued to produce with a kill out of the middle to bring her team within one, but a commanding kill and block had Jamestown ahead by three. The Warriors faced set point but fought to tie it at 24-24. Moments later, an error on Jamestown reversed roles and led to a Jamestown timeout. Out of the break, Jamestown sent an attack into the pin to give the Warriors a 26-24 win.
Midland turned things around offensively with just six errors compared to nine for the Jimmies. Flores, Fredrickson, and Morehouse each had six kills after two sets of play. Russell led all players with 13 digs and two aces.
Set Three (30-28)
The Warriors faced another deficit to start the third with an early timeout being called at 7-2. Midland chipped away at the lead, taking advantage of hitting miscues to pull within three. Jamestown’s lead dwindled to two when Fredrickson put away an overpass, but a service error returned the serve to the Jimmies. Flores sent an authoritative shot cross-court to see Midland down 16-15, and the junior followed with her second ace of the night to tie the set at 16’s. Hiatt and Morehouse brought Midland its first lead of the set with a double block to bring Jamestown to use a timeout. Midland found a 20-17 advantage on a smart shot from Flores out of the back row, but Jamestown countered with discipline at the net to tie the set at 20-20. Jamestown’s momentum continued to build as a push to the deep corner landed for a 21-20 advantage and a Midland timeout. The Warriors fought to reclaim a narrow 23-22 lead to force a Jamestown timeout. Fredrickson came out of the break with her ninth kill of the night to bring on set point, but Jamestown responded with two points to tie the set at 24-24. The score tied at 25’s, 26’s, 27’s, and 28’s before the Warriors found two-straight for a 30-28 set win.
Midland outhit Jamestown .185 to .125 in the set. Through three sets, Russell had 17 digs with Flores closely behind at 16. Flores also led the team with 11 digs.
Set Four (25-12)
For the first time in the match, Midland burst ahead to a 4-0 lead before Jamestown found a kill on the right side. Midland got back on track with a kill from Samuelson and an ace by Russell to go up 6-1 and force a Jamestown timeout. Flores earned her 12th kill of the match to give her team the 10-4 lead before a quick side out from Jamestown. Things kept going right for the Warriors as a four-point run, capped off by a block from Samuelson had Jamestown calling its second timeout of the set with a commanding 15-5 Midland lead. The Warriors had an answer to each Jimmie counter, maintaining a statement lead at the score moved to 18-7. Jamestown enjoyed a three-point run, but a service error righted the ship for Midland with the score at 21-10. Midland’s push continued to stun the opposition, and match point entered the scene before Jamestown could blink. Match point was decided by a hitting error on Jamestown’s outside, and the dogpile ensued as Midland sealed its fate in the national championship match.
Comments from Coach
“We were opportunistic. We got points in game two and game three when we really needed to,” said head coach Paul Giesselmann. “Then we just got off to a great start in game four and just kept it rolling. Then all of a sudden the pressure was on Jamestown. I’ve been in their situation. Where the snowball’s coming down the mountain and you can’t stop it.”
“The big thing about this team is, it’s got that ‘it’ factor. You can’t explain it sometimes. They love playing for each other. Not for themselves. They are willing to sacrifice rolls, whatever it is to get the job done.”
“We’re playing for the national championship tomorrow night, and it’s this year’s team doing it. But this team isn’t there without every other student-athlete that’s ever put on a Midland Volleyball uniform. They set the stage. They allowed every year of the program to continue to develop. So I want every alumni out there to feel like you’re a part of this great ride we’re on.”
Midland (16-9) will compete for the NAIA National Championship title on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. inside the Tyson Event Center. The Warriors will take on No. 6 Missouri Baptist University.