Courtesy of Midland Athletics
OMAHA, Neb. – It was all business for No. 1-ranked Midland University as they made the trip down to Omaha to face No. 13 College of Saint Mary on Wednesday night. The Warriors looked confident and relaxed in their pregame and that poise carried over in the match as they earned a straight-set sweep (25-22, 25-17, 25-11) over the Flames. The victory improves their record to 14-2 overall and 4-1 in the Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC). CSM falls to 13-2 on the season and 3-2 in the conference.
Team defense was the key for Midland as they ended a three-match losing streak on the court at the Lied Fitness Center. While they accumulated just seven team blocks, they force the Flames into several hitting errors as they tried to maneuver around the long arms of the Warriors. CSM hit .017 percent on the night with 21 errors and just 23 kills.
The Warriors’ offense was efficient with 45 kills against 20 errors, hitting .200 for the match. Their most productive numbers were in the third with a .227 attack percentage (17 kills, 7 errors).
Set one, saw the teams exchange runs. MU had a 5-0 swing to move up 7-3. CSM kept chipping away with short bursts and then pulled within two points, 19-17, with a 4-0 run down the stretch. The Warriors closed out the set via a kill by Taliyah Flores, 25-22.
In the second, the errors started to pile up for the Flames. In the early going, the Warriors were able to take an 8-4 lead thanks in part to four hitting errors by their opposition. CSM battled back and pulled within a point a 10-9 but a three-point swing fueled by Flores kill and an ace serve by Hope Leimbach gave MU the separation they needed. They would cruise to an eight-point win in the set, 25-17.
The Flames started to heat up in the third, taking six of the first seven points, forcing a timeout by the Warriors. After the quick word from head coach Paul Giesselmann, the Warriors responded with a 10-2 run to move in front 11-7. Another 3-0 run made it 15-8 and extinguished the Flames’ second timeout in the process.
With the momentum firmly on their side of the net, the Warriors took 10 of the next 14 points for the 25-11 win and the three-set sweep.
“I was really proud of our team tonight, coming into a tough environment against a nationally-ranked team. We’ve really struggled here the past few years. I was happy about how our kids came out of the gate and just sustained the energy. I thought our serve, pass, and team defense were just outstanding. We really made CSM work for their points tonight. I thought Delanie [Vallinch] had another great match, building off the match she had last Friday. We just got to keep working and get better every day because the next match is against another nationally-ranked team.”
Delanie Vallinch picked up 15 digs in the match, setting the tone defensively. Leimbach and Flores joined her in double-digit digs with 12 and 10, respectively.
Leimbach coordinated the offense with 39 set assists to go with a pair of timely kills herself. Lauren Williams had a team-high 11 kills while Flores floored 10 for a double-double. Brooke Fredrickson, who had been relegated to the back row the past week, returned to the attack with nine kills while Abbey Ringler was able to knock down eight kills in the middle.
Williams, Ringler, and Lauryn Samuelson each had a share of three blocks at the net. Additionally, Jessie Moss came in and served a pair of aces.
Midland (14-2, 4-1 GPAC) will be on the road this weekend as they travel up to Orange City, Iowa for a match with No. 7 Northwestern (11-3, 3-2 GPAC). The Raiders and Warriors will take the court inside the Bultman Center at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 24.