SIOUX CITY, IOWA – A single game pit stop saw the Mustangs back in the friendly confines of Allee Gym on Saturday afternoon, with the Tigers of Doane University playing the role of visitors for the afternoon. Morningside took advantage of the break from the road, playing the role of the home team just once in six straight games, collecting the win over the Tigers in straight sets, 25-15, 25-13, and 25-22.
“Today goes to show how much of an impact the mental game plays. Today we were very, very focused. We were calm. We were deliberate,” explained coach Beth Donnelly. “I think that was the big difference that I saw today over the College of Saint Mary or Briar Cliff. We rebounded from our mistakes immediately. We didn’t let them affect the next play.”
The Mustangs got to work quickly, holding a 9-2 lead early in set one, and maintaining a lead of at least four points for the remainder of the set. The hosts would work to a 10-point lead by the end of the set. Mustang setter, Callie Alberico (SR/Fort Calhoun, NE), recorded career assist no. 3100 in the match, having eclipsed the 3,000 assist milestone earlier this year. Alberico sits in the fifth spot on Morningside’s all-time list for assists.
Morningside again opened up an early lead in set two, leading 10-3 before Doane called a time out and up 14 points just before the set wrapped up, and both teams retreated to their locker rooms.
Set three saw both teams exchange points until reaching 7-7. At that point, Morningside would build up a four-point cushion that would thin, but never disappear entirely, as Doane found holes in the Mustang defense. Morningside didn’t trail after breaking the 7-7 tie.
“I think they were a little more aggressive, hitting at our block instead of trying to hit around it, and they started attacking right back a lot more,” added Donnelly. “I think our right-back was getting sucked in a little bit, and I think Doane figured that out and started pushing balls into the corners in set three, and that threw us off.”
Doane had more attacks than Morningside, but also racked up more errors, having 21 to Morningside’s eight. The Mustangs had 37 kills in 102 attempts to the Tigers’ 35 in 123 attempts.
Morningside’s Krista Zenk (JR/Le Mars, IA) led all hitters with 12 kills, while Caitlin Makovicka (JR/Ceresco, NE) led all hitters with a .455 kill percentage. Emma Gerber (SR/Worthington, MN) had eight kills, Brittni Olson (SR/Sioux City, IA) had six, and Kaelyn Giefer (SO/Loveland, CO) and Makovicka had five each. Callie Alberico worked alone in the match, collecting 31 of the Mustangs’ 35 assists.
“I think the best part of Krista’s game tonight was her serve receive. She passed a 2.6 out of 3. They kept serving her. I think thinking she would fall apart, and she just never did. Her confidence was there tonight.”
Morningside had three aces in the match while recording no service errors. Makovicka claimed two of the team’s aces while Kayla Harris (SO/Dakota City, NE) picked up the other.
The Mustangs improve to 12-6 on the season and 4-4 in the GPAC. They take to the road again next week, with a Friday-Saturday road trip, playing tough matches at Concordia on Friday and Hastings on Saturday.