CRETE, Neb. – No. 7-ranked Midland University took to the road on Thursday night and escaped with a five set win over Doane University in Crete, Nebraska. The Warriors took the first two sets and looked poised for a sweep before the Tigers rallied back to win two straight a force a decisive fifth set. In that set it was the Warriors who took control early to close out the road win (25-17, 25-21, 22-25, 23-25, 15-11).
It took a while for the Warriors to get adjusted in the first set as Doane jumped out to an early 7-4 lead. Midland settled in though and came back to tie the set at 9-9 and then again at 14-14 after another Tiger rally. Priscilla O’Dowd and Jessica Peters combined to score the five points and the Warriors never looked back as they won the set 25-17.
That momentum spilled over into the second set with Midland taking the first four points and building a lead that Doane would never challenge. The Warriors floored 16 kills in the set as they won 25-21.
With the extended set break, the Tigers were better prepared in the third set. They fell behind early but came roaring back to force seven ties before taking the lead for good en route to a 25-22 set win. Midland was saddled with seven errors in the set and had a .147 hitting percentage, their lowest on the night.
The Tigers, who were feeding off the energy of their home crowd, came out hot in the fourth set as they jumped out to a 4-0 lead and kept the Warriors at arm’s length the whole set. Midland kept battling and Doane nearly let them back in late as they pulled within one point, 24-23, but finished them off 25-23 to set up a fifth and final set.
Before that set though, Midland’s veterans regrouped in the huddle and looked back to this past Tuesday for inspiration when they won a five-set thriller over Hastings. The Warriors focused on their defense, specifically their block, in the final set. They challenged nearly every Tiger attack putting up a virtual brick wall at the net. They sent a pair of balls to the ground on back to back plays to give them a 12-6 lead. Midland won the set 15-11 to escape the Haddix Center with the hard-fought win.
“I thought we got off to a great start. Our serve-receive was really good along with our defense,” said head coach Paul Giesselmann. “But after getting up 2-0, I think the girls were disappointed in themselves for letting up mentally. Allowing Doane to get back in the match. However, I loved how the team responded to start game five and got back to playing high-level volleyball.”
Priscilla O’Dowd had a preverbal ‘stat-stuffer’ night as she finished the night with 21 kills, 17 digs, and 5 total blocks while hitting .529 on the attack and also added a pair of service aces. Teammate and fellow All-American, Jessica Peters also had an impressive night statistically with 57 set assists and 12 digs.
Jaisa Russell finished with a team-high 26 digs while Mackenzie Wecker also had double figures with 15 balls dug. On the attack both Jenny Bair and Maggie Hiatt had big hitting nights with 18 and 13 kills respectively. As a team the Warriors finished with a .274 hitting percentage while Doane was held to .175 percent.
Midland (14-2, 6-0 GPAC) will return home for a Top 10 matchup with No. 10 Dordt (10-2, 4-0 GPAC) on Saturday, September 22. First serve between the Warriors and Defenders is slated for 3:00 p.m. inside Wikert Event Center.