Big nights from Taylor, Lester not enough against Nebraska Wesleyan

Hannah Lester
Hannah Lester

INDIANOLA, Iowa -- Morgan Taylor tied a career-high with 20 kills and Hannah Lester set a career-high with 17, but it wasn't enough as the Simpson volleyball team lost a five-set thriller to Nebraska Wesleyan on Thursday night at Cowles Fieldhouse.

Nebraska Wesleyan won by set scores of 25-21, 22-25, 18-25, 25-22, 15-11.

Taylor led four players in double figures for the Storm (6-14, 1-4 American Rivers), who suffered their first home loss of the season. Kierra Harder had 20 kills to lead the Prairie Wolves (6-11, 1-4).

A middle hitter, Lester hit a team-best .234 to go along with three block assists. Outside hitter Madison Hawtrey added 12 kills and 17 digs and middle hitter Megan LeMay filled the stat sheet with 11 kills, six block assists and five aces. Alyssa Mathews handed out a match-high 51 assists and Ariana Martinez led the way with 33 digs.

HOW IT HAPPENED

First Set | Nebraska Wesleyan got out to a fast start and rode the momentum to a first set win. The Prairie Wolves led by as many as nine when Harder's kill made 18-9 midway through the set. The Storm went on a late run to make it interesting, getting four-straight points with Hawtrey holding serve to pull within 22-19. Ultimately a service error gave the first set to Nebraska Wesleyan.

Second Set | Lester came up big for the Storm in the second set, hitting .429 with six kills and no errors in 14 attempts. Simpson trailed 19-16 before rattling off six unanswered points sparked by a block from LeMay and Lexie Parks. Nebraska Wesleyan came back to tie it 21-21, but a pair of attack errors and a Lester kill put Simpson at set point. Lester finished off the win with a kill from Mathews.

Third Set | The Storm led most of the way in set three thanks to an early 10-2 run that made it 13-5. Lester was nearly flawless again, hitting .636 with seven kills and no errors in 11 total attacks. Taylor added six kills with just one error as the Storm hit .288 as a team, the best by either squad on the night. The Prairie Wolves made a late run to pull within 19-17, but back-to-back kills from Lester and Taylor sent momentum back to the home team as the Storm closed the set on a 6-1 run.

Fourth Set | A slow start cost the Storm in set four as Nebraska Wesleyan jumped out to an 18-8 lead. Hawtrey wouldn't let Simpson go away quietly, though, coming alive with five kills from her outside position to help chip away at the lead. The Storm trailed 24-17 before winning five-straight points, but an attack error ultimately ended the rally.

Fifth Set | A kill by LeMay pulled Simpson within 8-7 but Nebraska Wesleyan scored the next four points to take control of the match. Hannah Bellinghausen's kill provided the final point for the Prairie Wolves.

NOTES

  • Head coach Lana Smith will have to wait at least two more days before becoming the winningest coach in school history. Her 332 career wins are tied with the late Shelley (Scott) O'Meara.
  • Alyssa Mathews surpassed 50 assists in a match for the second time this season and the third time in her career. Her career-best is 55 set against Concordia-Moorhead on Sept. 7 of this season.
  • The Storm fall to 1-4 in five-set matches this season. The last five-set loss was also in American Rivers Conference play, at Buena Vista on Sept. 25.

UP NEXT

The Storm host Monmouth (Ill.) in non-conference action Saturday, Oct. 13. Start time is set for 12 p.m. at Cowles Fieldhouse.