It was a pure battle from start to finish, but in the end, the Buena Vista volleyball team prevailed and advanced to the semifinal round of the Iowa Conference Volleyball Tournament after a 3-0 sweep of visiting Nebraska Wesleyan on Tuesday night.
The Prairie Wolves, who took the floor as the sixth seed, jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead in the opening set after back-to-back ace serves and built their largest lead at 15-7 after a kill by Hannah Bellinghausen, who led the way with 11 kills in the match. BVU, however, slowly clawed its way back into the match before an attack error by NWU tied things up at 17-17. The Beavers benefited from a pair of serving errors and four attack errors during the stretch to help aid the comeback. Despite the comeback, BVU fell behind again at 21-19 and againat 23-22 before a kill by senior Jade Schaap and an error from NWU, gave BVU a 24-23 lead. The Prairie Wolves tied it back up at 24-all before Ali Grein turned in one of her 11 kills on the night to give BVU the lead back, as BVU secured the win with NWU's seventh hitting error of the set.
The Beavers caught fire early in the second, building an 18-8 lead, but NWU wasn't about to back down. The Prairie Wolves battled back within 21-18 late before two more kills by Schaap helped left BVU to the 25-18 victory.
The third set was back-and-forth from the start with five ties, including at 14-14. Nebraska Wesleyan appeared to be taking control at 19-15 but back-to-back kills from Grein helped boost the spark that the third-seeded Beavers needed to stay in the set. NWU continued to lead at 23-20 before BVU rattled off four straight points, including a kill and an ace serve from Schaap, to take a 24-23 lead. NWU responded with consecutive points to take a 25-24 lead before senior Jamie Navinskey registered one of her 11 kills to pull BVU even at 25-25. After a serving error by Navinskey gave the visitors the lead back at 26-25, a pair of attack erros by Nebraska Wesleyan (11-17) followed by Schaap's final kill gave BVU the thrilling three-set win.
Schaap tallied a match-high 16 kills to go along with seven digs, one block solo and a pair of block assists. Navinskey turned in a double-double with 11 kills and 10 digs. Mackenzie Gropel dished out 41 assists which marked the eighth-highest total for a three-set match in program history and now sits three away from 550 on the year. She just missed out on a double-double of her own as she finished with nine digs.
Summer Goss was diving all over the floor for the Beavers and came up with a match-high 20 digs while also chipping in with a pair of ace serves.
The win was the 11th straight victory this season for BVU as the team moves to 21-9. The team also wraps up its home schedule a perfect 8-0 and has now chalked up 10 straight wins dating back to last season.
The Beavers will now face second-seed Luther College (16-9) on Friday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. inside of the US Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids in the first of two semifinal matches. The Norse knocked off BVU, 3-1, back on September 30. The team has gone on to win 11 straight since that setback.