Jon Hegerle doesn't stand up very often during University of Jamestown women's volleyball games, but the postseason proved so exciting that the head coach couldn't always maintain his composed position.
The Jimmies battled for their second Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) tournament win Wednesday evening at Harold Newman Arena. The Jimmies took fifth-seeded Midland University in four 25-19, 19-25, 25-21, 25-19 and have advanced to the GPAC championship for the second straight season.
The Jimmies will host second-seeded Northwestern University Saturday at 2 p.m. UJ beat the Red Raiders in five to end the regular season back in November. Northwestern defeated third-seeded Concordia Wednesday.
The Jimmies remained the No. 1 team in the latest edition of the 2020-21 NAIA Women's Volleyball Coaches' Top 25 Poll released Wednesday.
"I was into this," Hegerle said. "We were on high alert on the bench. They are a great team so before the game, we just decided that we need to keep it light on our side, celebrate our team and keep their emotions where we want them to be.
"I don't know if we helped or hurt."
It certainly didn't hurt the six on the court to have 14 people on the sidelines lobbying for every point.
The Warriors were closing in on the Jimmies when Anna Holen, one of the Jays' veteran hitters, used her hops and wound up for a line drive. The ball smacked the floor but was called out by the down official. The call didn't phase the Jimmies much and Corina Huff took back the Jimmie lead with a well-timed and powerful slide to make it 13-12 Jimmies. UJ kept it going, making their way to a 25-19 win.
Kalli Hegerle led the Jimmies at the net with 13 kills while Holen put 10 in the scorebooks. Hegerle, a junior right side, was hitting at a rate of .356 while Jayla Ritter tallied the highest average at .438.
"I think the first set was just a little bit too easy," Hegerle said. "Midland made some unforced errors and they just weren't themselves."
Midland found themselves in the next three games.
The second set started out with high Jimmie energy as senior middle blocker Corina Huff made three straight blocks in the very first play. The 1-0 lead soon turned to an 8-5 advantage but the Warriors warred back, tying the game at 12, which kicked off a 5-2 run. Midland kept the momentum going, hammering a fatigued Jimmie defense.
"They came and battled and all of a sudden, they got under our skin," Hegerle said. "You could see we were rattled, we were really focused on the score and we were tense.
"We just talked about it in timeouts and just said, 'It's a long night. We're not going to beat them in the next five points.'"
The Jimmies defensive shanks and tipped blocks were the team's kryptonite in the second and the No. 1 team in the country dropped 25-19.
"They are an awesome team," Holen said of Midland. "They are always so much fun to play. In the second we stopped being as aggressive and we were making errors. We kind of beat ourselves for too many points."
The Jimmies racked up 33 unforced errors across the four sets -- 27 of which came up at the net.
Midland's Maggie Hiatt, a 6-foot-2 right side, and Brooke Fredrickson, a 5-foot-10 outside, made things tough on the Jimmies, forcing touches at the net and finding gaps in the defense. Set No. 3 saw 11 tied scores just in the first 14 points. The Jimmies hung tough and made it 22-19 forcing Midland head coach Paul Giesselmann to call a timeout.
As a team, Midland was hitting at an average of .113 while the Jimmies attacked with an average of .150. The Jimmies made 51 kills off 160 attack attempts while the Warriors hammered 48 off of 168 tries.
"I thought set three was very similar as far as our play but our attitude was a lot different," Hegerle said. "Even though it was an ugly game -- good things were happening. That was really good to see."
More good things happened for the home team in set No. 4.
The Jimmies were up 13-12 in the fourth when the Warriors sent a long drive out of bounds. The up official called a touch on the Jimmies, but after hearing shouts of indignation from the crowd and a consultation with the down referee the call was reversed, resulting in an eruption of cheers from the stands and the Jimmies' bench.
"I think if we would have won that point or lost that point, it would have given us momentum because of how the whole crowd reacted," Hegerle said. "You can't let that stuff impact you too much. I do once in a while, but that's my job. If it's at a crucial point, watch out."
Northwestern should be watching out for more aggressive play for the Jimmies come Saturday.
"Every team in the GPAC is good, it's always competitive," Holen said. "We kind of have a target on our back being the No. 1 seed and teams want to beat us. We're getting everybody's best competition and that's what makes it so fun."
University of Jamestown 3, Midland 0
MID 19 25 21 19
UJ 25 19 25 25
MID -- Kills: Hiatt 16, Taliyah Flores 12, Fredrickson 9, Sydney Morehouse 9. Assists: Hope Leimbach 46. Digs: Jaisa Russell 20, Fredrickson 19, Kaitlynn Simon 9, Flores 9, Leimbach 7, Samantha Christiansen 3, Hiatt 2, Lauryn Samuelson 1. Aces: Leimbach 1. Blocks: Hiatt 1, Morehouse 1.
UJ -- Kills: Hegerle 13, Holen 10, Ritter 8, Huff 7, Taylor Sabinash 6, Nicole Schmitz 3, Megan Gaffaney 2, Kadyn Mehring 2. Assists: Gaffaney 26, Meiklejohn 19. Digs: Sydney Ellingson 22, Hannah Schiele 15, Holen 15, Gaffaney 10, Meiklejohn 6, Sabinash 3, Ritter 2, Mehring 1, Hegerle 1, Schmitz 1, E. Holen 1. Aces: Meiklejohn 3, E. Holen 1. Blocks: Ritter 5, Huff 2, Sabinash 1.
Great Plains Athletic Conference
Women's Volleyball Tournament
(Tournament seeding/records in parentheses)
(1) Jamestown 3, (8) Morningside 0
(3) Concordia 3, (6) Dakota Wesleyan 0
(2) Northwestern 3, (7) Hastings 0
(5) Midland 3, (4) Dordt 1
(1) Jamestown 3, (5) Midland 1
(2) Northwestern 3, (3) Concordia 1
Championship: (1) Jamestown vs. (2) Northwestern, at higher seed.