Morningside’s season ended in the round of 16 at the NAIA Volleyball National Championship after a 25-20, 25-20, 25-12 loss against seventh-ranked Park in Friday afternoon’s action at Sioux City’s Tyson Events Center-Gateway Arena.
The Pirates won their 10th match in a row to move on to Friday night’s quarterfinals, where they will take a 33-3 record into the contest. Morningside, which advanced past pool play into the single-elimination bracket for the first time in school history, closed the books on a 20-14 season.
Morningside freshman outside hitter Krista Zenk supplied a match-high 11 kills. Emma Gerber was next with seven kills and a team-high .316 hitting percentage. Jayde Bergmann added four kills, while Brittni Olson, Jenn Buyert and Callie Alberico each had three.
Alberico dealt 23 assists and had eight digs.
Nikki Oberfoell led the Mustangs with 18 digs and Bergmann just missed double figures with nine.
Noura Meawad, one of the top attackers in the nation with an average of 4.54 kills per set entering the tournament, and Aneisha Ford each had 10 kills to lead the Pirates.
Park scored the first point of the opening set on a kill by Ford, who played at Morningside earlier in her career. The Mustangs tied the score at one on a solo block by Bergmann before a kill by Alissa Flint put the Pirates ahead to stay at 2-1. The Mustangs still trailed by one point, 8-7, after a setter dump by Alberico before a three-point Pirate run, aided by a pair of Morningside attack errors, put Park in front 11-7. The Pirates increased their lead to five points, 19-14, on an ace serve by Amanda Santos. Morningside rallied within two points, 16-14, on an ace serve by Ashley Boer before the Pirates reeled off four straight points, two of them on kills by Flint, to open a 20-14 advantage. The Pirates eventually won 25-20 when Nada Meawad supplied the set winning kill.
Flint and Ford each had six kills to lead the Pirates’ opening set attack, while Zenk supplied five kills for the Mustangs.
Noura Meawad slammed back-to-back kills to give the Pirates an early 2-0 lead in the second set before a kill by Zenk tied the set at two. Ford followed with a kill to put Park ahead to stay at 3-2. Another kill by Ford put the Pirates ahead by six points, 22-16, late in the set. Zenk supplied a kill and ace serve to rally the Mustangs within 22-18 before the Pirates went on to take the set by another 25-20 verdict.
A kill by Gerber and block combinations of Olson and Zenk and Olson and Alberico sparked the Mustangs to an early 3-1 lead in the third set. Zenk and Olson combined on another block to tie the score at four before the Pirates took over. Ford slammed a kill to put the Pirates ahead to stay at 5-4 and trigger a four-point run that gave Park an 8-4 advantage. The Pirates gradually pulled away to a 25-12 triumph in a set where their hitters attacked with a .316 efficiency rate compared to a negative -.025 hitting percentage by the Mustangs.