Grace wins opener at NCCAA Nationals
SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Grace’s volleyball team began play at the 2020 NCCAA National Championships on Thursday.
The Lady Lancers split the first day, beating third-seed Mid-America Christian 3-1 before falling to No. 2 Bethel in the nightcap.
The Lady Lancers will end pool play on Friday morning. Grace plays Campbellsville at 11 a.m. (Eastern). The winner of that match will advance to the national semifinals on Friday evening.
Grace had to rally to beat Mid-America Christian in the first match on Thursday. The Lady Lancers started the match well by winning three of the first four points.
But Grace committed three service errors in the beginning stages, allowing the Evangels to remain close.
MACU tied the score at 11-11 and eventually took the lead. The Lady Lancers were unable to produce a lengthy run as MACU held on to win the opening set 25-20.
In the second set, Grace won the first two points but could not maintain the momentum. The Evangels won six of the next seven points to grab an early edge.
But the Lady Lancers rallied back with a 10-1 run, charging ahead 16-8 thanks to the strong hitting of Katie Swanson, Jenna Mueller and others.
MACU kept pressure on Grace, but the Lady Lancers maintained composure to win 25-22 to even the match.
The third set was Grace’s best offensively. The Lady Lancers had 16 kills on just five errors (.268 percentage) en route to a 25-19 win.
The fourth set started evenly with the score knotted 7-7. But Grace seized control, erupting on a 10-2 run to pull ahead by eight. Jenna Mueller had three kills during Grace’s spurt.
The Evangels made Grace sweat by scoring eight unanswered points, rallying to tie the game at 17-17. But Grace showed its resolve, converting late to win 25-23 and secure the match.
Mueller led Grace with 14 kills on a .393 percentage, and Jadyn Block added 10 kills, 3 digs and 2 solo blocks.
Gabbey Harrington added 43 assists, 5 kills and 9 digs, Swanson had eight kills, and Cassadi Colbert and Makaela Lochmueller each tallied seven kills.
Gina Novotny produced 20 digs, Grace Erwin had 18 digs and Brittany Baize chipped in 13 digs.
In the late match on Thursday, Grace fell to Bethel 3-0. The Pilots had 13 block points while hitting at a .280 percentage.
Grace’s offense had 42 kills on a .156 percentage, but the Lady Lancers could not overcome Bethel’s presence at the net.
The Lady Lancers dropped the opener 28-26 in extra points before falling 25-19 and 25-17.
Swanson led all players with 11 kills to go along with four digs, Lochmueller added nine kills and two block points, and Eakright, Mueller and Colbert each had six kills.
Harrington produced 36 assists and seven digs, Novotny dug up 14 balls, and Baize added 12 digs.