INDIANOLA, Iowa – The Simpson volleyball team dropped a pair of hard-fought matches on Saturday, ending the Simpson Invitational with a 1-3 mark after losses to Nebraska Wesleyan and Coe.
The Storm (3-10) went five sets against Nebraska Wesleyan in the first match of the day, losing 25-19, 23-25, 25-22, 22-25, 15-11. They got off to a fast start against Coe, winning the first set before running out of gas in a 25-27, 25-20, 27-25, 25-18 loss.
Despite the losses, a young Simpson team continued to improve throughout the weekend. Only two weeks ago, Simpson was swept by Nebraska Wesleyan. Saturday, the team had multiple opportunities to avenge the loss.
"With such a young team, we are still figuring out our identity," head coach Lana Smith said. "I'm impressed with how much we've improved over the first few weeks of the season and am excited about the potential of this group."
Simpson led the Prairie Wolves (5-5) in the deciding fifth set 6-3 before relinquishing the lead down the stretch.
"We are continuing to learn and continuing to improve our play offensively," Smith said. "Now we need to learn to execute at crucial points in the match and not make the small mistakes that inevitably come back to haunt you."
MacKenzie McGraw led Simpson with 20 kills and a .410 hitting percentage in the loss. Fellow freshman Tabitha Blaser had 15 kills and sophomore Lauren Martin chipped in with 10. Katie Kieffer handed out a season-high 51 assists.
McGraw and Steph Keller had 16 kills apiece against the Kohawks (7-6) and Martin had four blocks. Kieffer had 43 assists.
McGraw and Kieffer earned spots on the all-tournament team for their efforts over the weekend.
Simpson will try to move to 2-0 in conference play this week when Luther comes to Cowles Fieldhouse on Wednesday, Sept. 19. Start time is set for 7:30 p.m.