Briar Cliff won an extended first set on the road against #25 Morningside on Tuesday night but ultimately fell 3-1 to the Mustangs in a GPAC contest across town in Allee Gymnasium.
The Chargers were up against it with two set point opportunities for Morningside in the first game, but a solo block by Grace Whitlaw kept her team alive once and a kill from Whitlaw extended the set again for the Blue and Gold. After a Mustang attack error, Harlee Wagoner‘s lone ace of the night gave the Cliff the edge 27-25.
Briar Cliff then jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second set and seemed to have momentum before the home squad picked things up. After a back-and-forth first set that saw 18 tie scores and 10 lead changes, the Mustangs got their first lead in the second set at 6-5 and never trailed again to even the match up, taking the set 25-20.
Set three also only saw one lead change, but this time it was a late swap as Briar Cliff once again led early and had as many as five points on the Mustangs before letting the game slip away. The Chargers latest advantage was 21-17 before six straight Morningside points changed the outcome and the Mustangs eventually went on to win the game 25-23.
The third set was all Morningside’s as the Mustangs scored the first three points of the set and never looked back, ending the night with a 25-15 final game and the 3-1 victory. The match was revenge after Briar Cliff topped the crosstown rivals earlier this season in a nonconference meeting.
“Morningside made some great adjustments and we were not able to stop their middle hitters,” said BC head coach Lindsey Weatherford. “We were not all that sound tonight. We will look to get back that consistency that we had previously.”
Briar Cliff did not have an attacker reach double figure kills as Noel Phillips, Aubury Coleman and Victoria Gonzalez each finished with nine. Middle blockers Whitlaw and Tyra Blue each chipped in with six kills while Analyse Stapleton added five. Morningside’s Krista Zenk led all players with 16 kills and Emma Gerber totaled 15. As a team, Morningside held the advantage in attack percentage by a .211 to .133 clip.
The Chargers did outblock the Mustangs 11-10. Whitlaw was the top blocker for BC with six, including two solo blocks. Brittni Olson had a mtach-high seven blocks.
Each team had multiple setters as Morningside’s Sabrina Creason and Callie Alberico shared the duty with Creason tallying 24 assists and Alberico finishing with 22. Delaney Meyer led the Cliff with 21 assists while Maureen Imrie finished with 14. Victoria Gonzalez had five assists and 14 digs for the Blue and Gold. Other Briar Cliff players with double digit dig totals included Grace Hanno (18) and Meyer (12). Morningside libero Kayla Harris had a match-high 30 digs.
Morningside had the better serving night with six aces and seven service errors. Briar Cliff made 10 mistakes while recording four aces.
Briar Cliff, which is receiving votes in the NAIA coaches’ poll, has another ranked team coming up as the 13-11 Chargers host #11 Jamestown at 7:30 p.m. The Cliff dropped to 3-7 in GPAC play with the loss. Morningside improved to 6-5 in the GPAC with an overall record of 14-7.