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No. 2 Viterbo falls in championship semifinals

No. 2 Viterbo falls in championship semifinals


SIOUX CITY, Iowa — The run is over. The Viterbo University volleyball team’s season ended in the NAIA championship semifinals on Saturday.

In an upset win, fourth-ranked Dordt College took down the No. 2-ranked V-Hawks 3-1 (23-25, 26-24, 25-17, 25-19) at the Tyson Center.

Twice, in two different sets, things looked to be in Viterbo’s favor before the Defenders changed the tides. And, had either of those sets gone to the V-Hawks, pushing the match to a fifth set could have, of course, changed everything.

In the fourth set, which featured 13 ties and 10 lead changes, Viterbo (39-2) had a 19-18 lead. Dordt (34-7), somehow, ended it right there, with a 7-0 run to eliminate the V-Hawks.

And, after winning the first set, Viterbo had a 17-13 lead in set two, before the Defenders went on a 5-0 run to go up 18-17. The V-Hawks got the lead back and were a point away from taking the set, 24-22, but gave up another 4-0 run to lose it.

The third set was controlled by the Defenders, who, up 16-15, closed things out with a 9-2 run.

The loss deprives a 1-vs.-2 NAIA championship finale between Viterbo and Lindsey Wilson (33-0).

It’s the third time in the past four years that Viterbo’s season ended a win away from the championship match. In 2015, Viterbo lost to Missouri Baptist 3-0 in the Final Four. In 2014, the V-Hawks fell Brownsville 3-0.

It’s the fourth consecutive season Viterbo finished with at least 39 wins.

The loss snapped a streak of 14 consecutive 3-0 sweeps for the V-Hawks. It also ended Viterbo’s 16-match winning streak that dates back to the team’s only other loss of the season — 3-2 (25-19,20-25,28-26,20-25,19-17) on Oct. 14 to Rocky Mountain College.

Looking ahead to next season, Viterbo will be losing it’s top setter, hitter and libero, who all finish in the record books.

First, the V-Hawks will lose their all-time leader in assists in senior Amelia Grahn. The senior had 49 assists in the finale to cap off an amazing tournament.

Grahn finishes her career with an incredible 5,177 assists, destroying Brianna Brinkman’s all-time record of 3,677. Brinkman did retain the single-season record (1,722) but Grahn leaves second, third and fourth on that list (2015-1,717, 2016-1,654, 2017-1,642 assists).

The V-Hawks will also lose their second-best hitter in school history in Natalie Geidel. She had 23 kills in her final match and finished her career with 2,174 kills. Alicia Olson remains the all-time leader with 2,468.

Geidel’s 633 kills this season put her fourth all-time behind Olson, who holds the Top 3 spots, including the record at 855.

And, at libero, Viterbo will be losing Baylee Gross, who had 26 digs in her final match.

Gross finished her career with 2,117 digs, which moves her into the fourth spot all-time behind Jennifer Krentz (3,105), Jordan Blaken (2,807) and Heather Harelstad (2,778).

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