SPRINGFIELD, Neb. – No. 11 Midland University had to battle through a handful of injuries during the opening set of matches of the season at the Evangel Tipoff Classic. After defeating No. 3 Missouri Baptist on Thursday, they were without the services of a pair of veterans for their matches with No. 4 Viterbo and Evangel. The Warriors would fall to the highly-ranked V-Hawks in straight sets (22-25, 24-26, 22-25) in the morning before coming back and defeating the hometown Crusaders in four sets (25-21, 15-25, 25-19, 27-25) in that evening.
In the opening match of the day, Midland was without both Priscilla O’Dowd and Jenny Bair, a pair of senior co-captains this year who were dealing with foot injuries. Then in the first set another senior, Amber Pribyl, went down with a foot injury as well. That didn’t stop the rest of the Warriors though from challenging the highly-ranked V-Hawks. With the leadership of senior setter Jessica Peters, they were in the match the entire way. They never allowed Viterbo to get more than an arm’s length away and nearly took the second set before a 7-1 run by the V-Hawks to end the set.
Peters finished with 27 set assists on the match and added seven digs. Several newcomers filled in for the team, including freshman Kaitlynn Simon who had a team-high 10 digs. Sophomore Maggie Hiatt led the attack with 11 kills while sophomore Sydney Morehouse and junior Taylor Petersen each had eight.
Against Evangel the Warriors were able to get back on the winning track, but it wasn’t easy. After taking the opening set 25-21, Midland fell to 15-25 to the hometown team. They would refocus and closeout the match and weekend with wins of 25-19 and 27-25 in the final sets.
Once again Peters coordinated the attack, finishing with a season-high 48 set assists while digging 11 balls along the way. Sophomore Jaisa Russell was key to the defensive effort by Midland with 23 digs. Hiatt and Morehouse both finished with double-digit kills with 19 and 12 respectively.
“Losses are always disappointing,” head coach Paul Giesselmann stated after the pair of matches. “With so many players getting injured in this tournament though, I was really pleased with how our team competed with so many young players on the court. Jess Peters did a fantastic job leading a young shorthanded team.”
Midland (2-1) will look to be on the mend next week as they host Peru State on Wednesday in their home opener. First serve between the Warriors and Bobcats is set for 7 p.m. inside Wikert Event Center in Fremont, Nebraska.