Posted by: Sports
In the Opening Round of the NAIA National Tournament, the University of St. Francis (Ill.) went on the road into a hostile environment and came away with an upset victory over No. 16 Doane College. The Saints took the first two sets only to see Doane battle back on their home court to force a five set match. When the final point was scored, USF had scored a 25-21, 25-21, 18-25, 23-25 and 15-13 victory.
St. Francis used a strong attack in the first set, hitting .323 as they compiled 15 kills on 31 attacks. Leading the charge was Laura Wills with five. She came off the bench to give the Saints a spark when trailing 9-5 early on. She picked up four kills in the next six Saint points to give USF an 11-10 lead.
Doane was able to regain the lead, 15-14, but back-to-back kills by Megan Mowery gave the Saints the lead for good. Wills finished the set with five kills and Mowery added four. The Tigers were paced in the first set by Susan Rollman's four kills but Doane hit .152 in the set.
In set two, Doane and USF battled through the early stages and were tied 10-all. Doane took nine of the next 11 points to build a 19-12 lead as Ashley Axmann and Emily Max combined for seven kills.
The Saints received a kill by Caleigh Hill and it sparked a 7-0 run to tie the match at 19-all. Following a Tiger timeout, a long rally eventually ended in a kill by Doane's Abby Sorensen to give them a 20-19 lead. Hill came through on the next point and the Saints ran away with the final points to claim a 2-0 set led. Hill had five kills in the set for St. Francis while Rollman led Doane with seven kills.
Following an intermission, Doane blitzed out to an early 9-3 lead as USF committed four early attack errors. A service error by the Tigers gave the Saints a side out and they took advantage by closing the game to 12-9. Axmann followed with a kill and a block to extend Doane's lead and slow the momentum the Saints had picked up.
The Tigers steadily pulled away in the set as they forced seven attack errors from USF while picking up 12 kills. Doane added two ace serves in the set to extend the match.
In the fourth set, Rollman came alive again for the Tigers as she posted six kills. Doane lead throughout most of the set and took a 23-21 lead on a Max kill. The Saints came back with kills from Kate McIlvanie and Mowery to tie the set at 23-all. Following a Doane timeout, Max posted her fifth kill of the set to earn set point. After an exchange of attacks on set point, USF was unable to handle a free ball across the net and Doane took the two point win to force the fifth set.
Throughout the season, five sets were almost the norm for the Tigers at home. In 11 matches on the home court, Doane had played eight to five sets, winning the first seven. It was the eighth though that would see the Tigers come up short.
In the final set, St. Francis jumped out to an early lead but Doane battled back to tie the match at 9-9. A kill by McIlvanie gave the lead back to USF and an errant attack on a free ball put the Saints up two, 11-9. Wills came up with a pair of kills over the next four points to give match-point to USF, 14-10.
Doane wasn't going to go quietly as they set their three-time All-American, Rollman, who picked up the kill to fight off the first match point. However, McIlvanie came through one more time as she pushed an attack through the Doane block and down for the final kill of the match.
St. Francis had a balanced attack on the night with four players picking up double-figures in kills while the team hit .237. Megan Mowery led the way with 15 kills and Caleigh Hill added 12 kills. Laura Wills and Kate McIlvanie added 11 and 10 kills, respectively. Hill was dominant at the net on both sides of the ball, added seven blocks in the match.
Ashley Richards dished out 47 assists and Dana Wettergren collected a match-high 18 digs. The Saints had 60 digs as a team and a .928 serve reception percentage. Mallory Frankovich had three ace serves and Mowery added two. As a team, USF finished with seven ace serves while committing 15 errors.
Doane was led by Susan Rollman's match-high 23 kills. Emily Max added 15 kills and Ashley Axmann finished with 11 for the Tigers. Doane was held to a .179 attack clip on the evening. Max added seven total blocks and Abby Sorensen finished with five.
Miranda Wisehart matched her counterpart from USF with 47 assists. Wisehart was joined by Haley Norvell and Desiree Erikson with two ace serves apiece. Doane notched seven ace serves while committing seven errors on serve. Wisehart also had a team-high 12 digs and Erikson added 10 digs.
The University of St. Francis advances to Sioux City, Iowa, to compete in pool play beginning on November 27 in the NAIA Volleyball National Championship Presented by CNOS Foundation. The Saints will take a 37-6 record in to action while Doane ends their season at 28-9.