Tigers Lasso In No. 18 Morningside
On the final evening of regular season play in Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) play, there were several games to be played that would effect the post-season tournament seedings. Doane and Morningside enter the evening knowing they would receive byes in the First Round of the GPAC Tournament but their seed was still up for grabs as the two teams were battling for second place. Morningside took the first meeting in September in four games.
Doane (26-6, 13-3 GPAC), ranked 25th in the NAIA, rallied from behind and relied heavily on their seniors as they picked up a five-game victory over No. 18 Morningside (30-6, 13-3 GPAC).
Doane looked poised to take Morningside out early after a quick and dominating start in game one with Doane winning 25-18. The Tigers used the hot hand of Ivie Speer (Sr.; Central City, Neb.) as she picked up seven kills in the first game.
However, the Mustangs brought an aggressive serving attack into game two and cruised to a 25-15 win as the Tigers struggled with the serves from Jamie Vander Kooi (Sr.; Hinton, Iowa) and Jessica Tjaden (Jr.; Julesburg, Colo.).
Game three went back and forth and the Mustangs pulled out a 25-23 win. Doane was plagued by service errors which aided Morningside. With the game tied at 20-all, the Mustangs got a strong effort from Emily Christen (Sr.; Anselmo, Neb.) at the net as she had a kill and solo block and Vander Kooi who posted two kills in the final five points, including the game-winner. The game three win clinched the No. 2 seed for Morningside in the conference tournament.
In game four, Doane jumped out early and took a 21-17 lead. Following a timeout, Morningside ran off six straight points to take a 23-21 lead. Morningside had match-point at 24-22 and serve but a kill by Lisa Lord (So.; Indianola, Neb.) and an attack error by the Mustangs helped the Tigers even the match at 24-all. Tiger setter Heather Davison (Jr.; Lincoln, Neb.) followed with a pushed ball to the back line for a kill and Doane picked up a block at the net by Jessy Livers (Sr.; Lincoln, Neb.) and Susan Rollman (Fr.; Humphrey, Neb.) for a 26-24 victory in the fourth game.
Doane once again jumped out to an early lead and turned to Speer to carry the load. She posted six kills and one block in the fifth game. Doane won eight of the final 12 points in game five for a 15-10 victory. The victory gave Doane a share of second place in the GPAC and the No. 3 seed for the conference tournament.
For the match, Speer led Doane with a career-high 19 kills and eight total blocks. Rollman posted 11 kills and nine assist blocks. Livers added 10 kills and Lord posted eight for the Tigers. Doane finished with 57 kills and 16 total blocks in the match.
Morningside received a match-high 23 kills from Vander Kooi. Kaeli Austin added 13 kills and Erin Downing (Jr.; Ottumwa, Iowa) posted 11. Christen finished with 10 kills and four total blocks for the Mustangs as they posted 68 kills and six blocks as a team.
Defensively in the back row, Doane was led by Emily Schwisow (Sr.; Beatrice, Neb.) and her 15 digs. Livers and Davison added 13 apiece for the Tigers. Davison led the Tiger setters with 26 set assists while Cassie Reicks (So.; Ravenna, Neb.) added 19.
Morningside was led by their libero as well, Amanda Nelson (Sr.; Wakefield, Neb.), as she posted a match-high 32 digs for the Mustangs. Tjaden led Morningside with 61 set assists.
Morningside and Doane will have a week off before their next matches when they will each host a Quarterfinal Round match-up in the GPAC tournament. The two teams could be on a collision course for a meeting once again in the semifinals of the GPAC Tournament.