Courtsey of the Daily Nonpareil
HUTCHINSON, Kansas – Iowa Western did everything necessary to put itself in position to knock off top-seeded, top-rated Miami Dade. The fifth-seeded, fifth-rated Reivers lost the first set, but rallied to win the next two against the two-time defending national champions. The Sharks won the fourth set, setting up a winner-take-all race to 15.
The Reivers kept the heat on in the third set to lead two sets to one. "We had a game plan and just because things weren't going our way, we were trusting that that game plan was going to work,'' Williams said. Miami Dade regrouped in the fourth to send it to a decisive set.
"I told my assistant before the fifth, 'I'm just so proud that we're here in this moment, because a lot of people probably didn't think that we could even make it there,''' Williams said. "We deserved to be here, and we showed that tonight.''
In the fifth, Bossler had several key kills and blocks early on as the Reivers took the first two-point lead at 7-5. Then Irina Alekseeva – who contributed 16 kills — had two kills and the Sharks made an error in a four-point span as Iowa Western led 12-8. Genesis Sheridan's kill gave the Iowa entry a 13-10 lead and had them within reach of the finals. But Dade followed an offspeed kill with a block, and then the Reivers made an error for 13-all. Another Shark block gave them a match point, and when Iowa Western shanked the next pass, it was over. "I reassured them, 'Like you, I'm heartbroken, too. Because we were right there,''' Williams said. "We needed two points and they needed five. It was working for us the whole entire match until then. "We didn't play with fear. I haven't had many teams that have done that. For us to lose, but lose giving 100 percent, I'm going to take that and I'm going to be OK.''
Iowa Western will conclude its season Saturday at 4:30 p.m. against Seward County in the third-place match. The winner gets a trophy; the loser goes home empty-handed. "I want people to know how good they were, how good they played tonight,'' Williams said. "I want them to know that by seeing a piece of metal on the shelf.''
Iowa Western (37-4) 22 26 25 19 13
Miami Dade (32-1) 25 24 20 25 15
IW (kills-aces-blocks): Kortlyn Henderson 22-0-1, Irina Alekseeva 16-2-0, Genesis Sheridan 9-0-2, Morgan Bossler 6-2-3, Kelsey Havel 3-1-3, Hina Pua'a 3-1-0, Brooklynn McCain 0-0-0, Bryn Stansberry 0-0-0, Savannah Downing 0-0-0, Ariana Macies 0-0-0.
Set assists: Pua'a 48, Macies 5, McCain 1, Downing 1. Digs: Macies 19, Havel 13, Pua'a 11, Downing 11, McCain 8, Alekseeva 6, Sheridan 3, Bossler 3, Henderson 1.