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LWC Volleyball's season ends with 3-1 loss to Midland

The Blue Raiders conclude the year with a 35-2 record and the program's second-consecutive appearance in the quarterfinals.
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By Charles Balcom

SIOUX CITY, Iowa - The fourth-ranked Lindsey Wilson volleyball team finally saw their 2016 season come to an end on Friday night with a 3-1 loss to fifth-ranked Midland (NE) 3-1 (26-24, 24-26, 21-25, 12-25) in the NAIA National Championship Tournament Quarterfinal round.

The Blue Raiders conclude the year with a 35-2 record and the program's second-consecutive appearance in the quarterfinals.

Lindsey Wilson ran into a Midland (31-3) team that defended extremely well both at the net and on the back row, holding the Blue Raiders to a season-low .088 attacking percentage. It's the first time all season Lindsey Wilson has hit below .100 in a match, and just the fifth time hitting less than .200. The Blue Raiders racked up 12 blocks in the match, eight of which came in the opening set, but the Warriors were equally up to the task, finishing with 15 blocks.

All of the Blue Raider attackers had trouble finding space in the Warrior defense as setter Makenzie Montano posted the best hitting percentage on the squad at .263 with seven kills. She also posted 37 assists and 19 digs. Elly Burke led the team with 11 kills, followed by Eileen Acuna's nine. Caitlyn Tino posted 21 digs.

The opening set was as close as they come as neither team was able to gain more than a two-point lead. The back-and-forth affair saw both squads struggle hitting the ball, as Lindsey Wilson barely edged the Warriors (.059 to .058). While the Blue Raider offense struggled, the defensive front line picked up the slack with eight total blocks in the set, compared to three by Midland (31-3).

An exchange of points saw the match tied at 24-24 after the Warriors fought off one set point, but the Blue Raiders went to the hot hands of Burke and Grace Blomstedt who posted back-to-back kills to close out the set.

The second set was also tight throughout with neither team able to able to build more than a two-point lead until Midland went up 11-8. Both squads had excellent defense all night long, whether it was the front line blocking balls back, or the back line digging them up. The Warriors again built a three-point advantage at the 18-15 mark, only for LWC to roll off three straight and level the match at 18-18. Midland promptly responded with a 5-2 run to take a 23-20 lead. The Blue Raiders scored three straight, the first on a kill by Burke and the next two on back-to-back aces by Anna-Lena Elbers to even the match at 23-23. A Blue Raider miscue on an attack attempt set up set point for the Warriors at 24-23. Lindsey Wilson fought it off once, but could not do it again as Midland took the set 26-24 and evened the match at 1-1.

The Blue Raiders were outhit (.146 to .213) for the first time in a set at the national tournament this year. Midland also out-blocked Lindsey Wilson in the frame 3-1.

Lindsey Wilson led 5-3 in the third set only for the Warriors to take three straight at go up 6-5.

The Blue Raiders finally took more than a three-point lead when a 5-1 run saw them go up 12-8 using four kills and a block to account for the scores. Midland closed the gap to two, but three-straight points put Lindsey Wilson out front 15-10, the largest lead of the night for the Blue Raiders in the first three sets. LWC led by five again at 16-11, but the Blue Raiders quickly saw that lead erased after four-straight points from Midland.

Midland continued to press and took a 18-17 lead, the first Warrior lead since 6-5.The teams traded the next few points to a 21-21 tie, but then the Blue Raiders went on a scoreless drought as Midland closed out the set on a 4-0 run to win the set 25-21 and take a 2-1 lead in the match.

Lindsey Wilson was outhit for the second-straight set .138 to .176.

Lindsey Wilson came out flat in the fourth set and Midland rode all the momentum to an 11-1 lead to start the frame. The Blue Raiders were playing catchup from there, never bringing it closer than six points at 12-6, as the deficit was too large to overcome and Midland went on to secure the set 25-12.

Lindsey Wilson was held to a -.028 attacking mark with 10 attack errors, the lowest set hitting percentage at the national tournament for the Blue Raiders.

The win sends Midland to the program's first-ever semifinals.

The Blue Raiders conclude the year with a 35-2 record and the program's second-consecutive appearance in the quarterfinals.

This story was posted on 2016-12-03 01:09:42
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