BELLEVUE, NEB – Morningside headed into Saturday’s matches riding a six game win streak, hoping to continue it against Westmont and College of the Ozarks in its second day of GoSarpy.com Labor Day Classic action. The Mustangs saw that streak cut short, falling to Westmont 3-1, 25-13, 20-25, 25-20, and 25-16, before bouncing back against College of the Ozarks 3-0, 25-16, 25-16, and 25-15.
Morningside fell behind Westmont early in set one, but bounced back to take set two. Westmont took a closer set three before wrapping up the match in set four.
“We honestly looked a little flat coming out and, unfortunately, did not play with the urgency that I had hoped for or that was needed for the Westmont match,” said coach Beth Donnelly. “Westmont has one of the biggest blocks and the toughest defenses I have seen to date, and it gave our offense fits the entire match. We switched in and out of a 5-1 and 6-2 strictly to see if we could create some opportunities offensively, but Westmont had an answer for everything we did.”
While The Mustangs weren’t able to come up with the win, there were some silver linings.
“The good thing is we lost to a very high caliber team that most likely will be in the top 15 for the next poll, so I do not believe that loss will hurt us,” said Donnelly. “We can learn a lot from that match as we go back to the film and watch both sides to really gain a lot of perspective.”
Morningside tallied 41 kills in the match led by Emma Gerber (SR/Worthington, MN) with nine, and Krista Zenk (JR/Le Mars, IA) with eight. Sabrina Creason (SO/Shawnee Mission, KS) had 17 assists and Callie Alberico (SR/Fort Calhoun, NE) had 14.
The Mustangs had six blocks on the defensive side of the ball, led by Gerber’s five block assists and Zenk’s three. Libero Kayla Harris (SO/Dakota City, NE) had 25 digs, followed by Merrin Van Velzen(JR/Sergeant Bluff, IA), who had 11, and Zenk, who had 10.
Morningside looked to rebound from its slow start in its final match of the weekend against College of the Ozarks, and did so in a big way. The Mustangs out-hit the Bobcats 49-25, while only having 16 errors, off of 44 assists.
“We came out swinging and super aggressive offensively and behind the service line against Ozarks and never let up,” noted Donnelly.
Brittni Olson (SR/Sioux City, IA) led Morningside with 13 kills and a hitting percentage of .429, followed by Gerber with 10, and Kaelyn Giefer (SO/Loveland, CO) with 9. Alberico went 4 for 4, while doling out 19 assists and Creason had 17.
Caitlin Makovicka (JR/Ceresco, NE) hat the Mustangs’ only solo block, while Gerber and Courtney Baruth (FR/Sioux Falls, S.D.) each had four block assists. Harris added another 14 digs to her weekend total, Alberico had 13, Ashley Boer (JR/Rock Rapids, IA) had 10, and Van Velzen had nine.
“I am really pleased with the outcome of this weekend’s matches. I think we learned a lot,” analyzed Donnelly. She continued, “I think the loss to Westmont really woke up our girls and allowed them to realize that we are a high caliber team that needs to show up and play at a high level every opportunity we get. We have room to grow, and we know where we are amongst the best.”
Morningside looks to turn the College of the Ozarks win into the beginning of a streak in its home opener on Wednesday, September 4 when College of Saint Mary visits Allee Gymansium. JV’s opening serve will be at 6:00 p.m. with Varsity to follow, scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
“We are anxious to start our GPAC season on Wednesday against College of Saint Mary,” started Donnelly. “We’re even more anxious to get on our home court in front of our favorite fans for the first time in 2019.”