SIOUX CENTER, Iowa – Fourth-seeded and No. 11 nationally ranked Midland University fell to top-seeded No. 5 Dordt College in the semifinals of the Great Plains Athletic Conference on Wednesday night. The Warriors were unable to pull off the road upset, falling in four sets (25-18, 15-25, 25-16, 25-15) to the Defenders. Dordt will advance to the GPAC Championship match. Despite the loss, Midland (22-6) has all but guaranteed itself a bid to the NAIA National Championship for the sixth consecutive year.
Dordt took advantage of several mistakes by the Warriors in the opening set, winning 25-18. Midland committed a dozen errors in the opener, nine on the attack and three more from the service line. The Warriors would settle down though and looked dominant to start set two.
In the second set Midland surged out to a 12-1 lead, forcing the Defenders to burn both timeouts to try and break the serve. Freshman Brooke Fredrickson was the one back at the line during the 10 point run. Senior Priscilla O’Dowd also got going during that stretch after being held without a kill in the first. The Warriors cruised to a 25-15 win to even the match.
Both teams knew the third set would be key to their chances in the match and things to a bad turn for the Warriors as O’Dowd went down with a lower leg injury just three points in. She appeared to injure her ankle as she came down from a play at the net. She would walk off the court with score 2-1 in favor of Dordt after being attended by the training staff but didn’t return to the lineup.
It took a while for the Warriors to adjust without their senior co-captain in the rotation and Dordt took advantage winning the set 25-16. O’Dowd finished with just four kills and four block assists on the night.
In the fourth, after changing their strategy a bit, Midland took an early 8-5 lead. They took advantage of a pair of errors by the Defenders and also got a pair of kills by freshman Bailey Schindler, who came on after the injury. However Dordt would respond and go on a 20-7 run to finish the set and win the match, 25-15.
Senior Jessica Peters, who was recently named GPAC Setter of the Week, finished with 29 set assists for Midland. Senior Jenny Bair led the attack with eight kills on the night. She was aided by sophomores Sydney Morehouse and Maggie Hiatt, who both had seven kills each.
“At times tonight I was really proud of how our girls battled on the road against a talented team,” commented head coach Paul Giesselmann. “I thought we played some high level volleyball but the disappointing part was our lack of consistency and too many errors hurt us.”
Midland finished with 23 hitting errors on the night and had 8 service errors to compound things.
“Priscilla getting hurt at the beginning of game three obviously hurt us as well. There is a lot we can build off of form this match though. We have a couple of weeks before the national championship starts (November 27). We’ll get healed up and get better in the gym during that time. I expect our players to play some high level volleyball, as they usually do, in Sioux City.”
The Warriors will officially earn their bid to the NAIA National Championship on Monday when the field of 44 teams is announced at 10:00 a.m. The top 19 teams in the coaches’ poll earn automatic bids to the final site, Tyson Event Center in Sioux City, Iowa along with the host school (Morningside). The other 24 team will be paired up for opening round matches to be played Saturday, November 17. Midland’s next match will be during pool play which begins on Tuesday, November 27th.