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Jennies volleyball loses to Concordia - St. Paul in regional semifinal


Sitting one game below .500 two weeks into the season, Central Missouri volleyball had a heart-to-heart conversation.

The Jennies turned things around, winning 21 of their last 24 games  while earning regular and postseason MIAA titles along with a number four seed in the NCAA Division II Central Regional.

UCM’s path reached an end with a 28-30, 20-25, 25-20,15-25 loss to top-seeded Concordia - St. Paul in the semifinal round on Friday, Dec. 1, at the Gangelhoff Center in St. Paul, Minnesota.

“We started the season off with a couple of pretty tough tournaments and some rocky matches,” Central Missouri head coach Caitlin Peterson said. “You never know what's going to happen after that. For them to really put in the work to get to where we are today, I’m super proud of them.”

Set one began with a 18-6 deficit, the largest differential of the night across all four sets.

The Jennies (25-8) followed with a run that eventually led to a 25-24 lead.

Back and forth action followed before the Golden Bears (30-2) ultimately closed off the set with ace and a block. UCM did not hold a lead again until the third set.

“I thought once we kind of got our feet back under us, we could play our game again,” Peterson said. “We battled back. We were down 16-5 and battled back to almost win that first set. It’s a tough way to start. I think if we had changed maybe one or two points in that set then that’s a different way. They’re a really good team. I’m proud of the way they battled in that first set and that whole match.”

UCM finished the match with a .134 hitting percentage compared to Concordia - St. Paul’s .215.

The Jennies went up against a Golden Bears defense that tallied a season-best 84 digs and 12 blocks.

The total included 25 digs each from junior outside hitter Emma Schmidt and sophomore outside hitter Ellie Sieling.

“It’s just a bad game,” Central Missouri redshirt senior redshirt senior outside hitter Kersti Nix said. “It doesn’t define what we did during the season. This season was an absolute dream. It was a blessing to be a part of it. I’m just overall grateful for everything.”

Sophomore middle blocker Rachel Ziesman paced Central Missouri with 13 kills on 26 attempts to go along with Nix’s 11 on 38 and redshirt senior outside hitter Sydney Lierz’ nine on 42.

Redshirt senior setter Olivia Olson had 31 assists while tacking on 12 digs defensively. Redshirt sophomore libero Grace Winkelmann led the Jennies with 19 digs while Lierz had 10. Ziesman led UCM with eight blocks.

Winkelmann also had a career-high six service aces.

“I would love to have some more matches,” Peterson said. “But, that’s the way it is today. I really love these kids.”

UCM was one of two MIAA members to make the tournament.

Nebraska-Kearney’s season ended in the semifinal round as well, losing to No. 2 seed Wayne State (Neb.) 25-18, 23-25, 25-20, 22-25, 9-15. 

Wayne went on to beat Concordia 27-25, 20-25, 25-23, 25-20 in the regional championship on Saturday, Dec. 2.

Joe Andrews can be reached at 660-747-8123.