Priscilla O'Dowd showed consistency, dominance throughout career at Midland

Middle blocker Priscilla O’Dowd set Midland school records for career kills (1,776), block assists (507) and attack percentage (.393).

Priscilla O’Dowd set Midland’s single-season school record for hitting percentage as a freshman when she hit .381.

As it turns out, O’Dowd was just using that mark as a baseline.

O’Dowd’s percentage, like her overall play, got better every year — she hit .383 as a sophomore and .391 last season before hitting .426 this fall. That was the third-best percentage in the NAIA this season.

“In the biggest moments, Priscilla always managed to play her best matches,” said Midland coach Paul Giesselmann of O’Dowd, who is the honorary captain on The World-Herald’s All-Nebraska NAIA/NCAA Division III team. O’Dowd was a member of the All-Nebraska team all four years at Midland.

O’Dowd also was one of the NAIA’s most dominant players throughout her college career. A second-team All-American as a freshman, the 6-foot-1 middle blocker was a first-team All-American each of the past three years.

“She really made herself into a really good six-rotation middle blocker,” said Giesselmann, who added that O’Dowd didn’t play in the back row until last season. “The way she developed her all-around game is something I was really happy to see.”

Giesselmann said O’Dowd’s serving and serve receive were really good at the NAIA national tournament, where Midland made a surprising run to the semifinals. The rest of her game at nationals was pretty good, too, as she averaged 15.8 kills and 11.3 digs in Midland’s six matches. During a win over fourth-ranked Missouri Baptist in the round of 16, O’Dowd had 19 kills, nine digs and hit .474.

O’Dowd hit for efficient percentage despite every opponent focusing on slowing her down. What helped in that area was O’Dowd’s connection with Jessica Peters, who was O’Dowd’s setter at Papillion-La Vista High School before being teammates all four seasons at Midland.

“In the biggest moments, when we had to have a sideout or kill, everyone in the gym knew Jess was going to set Priscilla on the back slide and yet they couldn’t stop them,” Giesselmann said.

Midland compiled a 111-27 record over the past four seasons, and O’Dowd and Peters’ names are all over the program’s record book. O’Dowd set the school record for career kills (1,776), block assists (507) and, of course, attack percentage (.393).

Peters also was a four-time All-American as she was third team this year. She finished second on Midland’s career list in assists (5,086) and eighth in digs (1,169).

“She played her best volleyball her senior year at the national championship,” Giesselmann said of Peters. “You can’t ask for anything more than that.”

There are other All-Americans on this year’s All-Nebraska team. Bellevue’s Shayla Scanlan was on the second team and finishes second in school history with 1,612 career kills.

Hastings’ Sage Meyer, a Bellevue West grad, was a third-team All-American, while honorable mention went to Bellevue’s Olivia Galas, Lucy Skoch of Hastings and Doane’s Allison Kuenle.

NCAA Division II

UNK libero Ellie McDonnell, a high school teammate of O’Dowd and Peters at Papillion-La Vista, is the honorary captain of the Division II team.

McDonnell was a second-team All-American and set the school record for digs in a career and season. She had 747 digs this season, averaging 5.75 per set.

UNK’s libero before McDonnell, Liz McGowan, held the career digs record with 2,099. Lopers coach Rick Squiers said during the season he figured that record would stand for a while, but McDonnell broke the mark in the middle of October and finished with 2,391.

McDonnell is one of four Lopers on the Division II team as UNK went 33-3 and spent time at No. 1 in the national poll. Kendall Schroer led the team in kills, while Julianne Jackson was second in kills and digs. Setter Lindsey Smith had 1,387 assists.

Katie Stephens, another Papillion-La Vista grad, led a 22-9 Wayne State team in kills, averaging 2.94 per set. Megan Gebhardt finished with more than 1,000 assists.

Two-year colleges

Western Nebraska won 28 matches this season and its top player was honorary captain Syenna Masaki.

The sophomore from Hawaii showed her versatility as she led the Cougars in kills per set (2.76) and was second on the team in assists (267) and digs (339). Masaki started the season as a setter in a 6-2 offense, but because of injuries, she moved to outside hitter.

The All-Nebraska team also includes Western Nebraska’s Ana Costas, who was the Region IX libero of the year as she had 616 digs.

McCook, which has had back-to-back 20-win seasons, was led by Faith Simpson, who was eighth in NJCAA Division I in kills with 481, had 56 aces and was named the Region IX freshman of the year. Teammate Ashley Carson was seventh nationally in assists (1,268) and will play at NCAA Division II Coker College next season.

Northeast Nebraska went 21-15 and finished seventh at the NJCAA Division II national tournament. Kalli Brester led the team in kills (403) and was second in digs (509), while setter Savannah Nelson had 1,251 assists.

Central’s Jacie Laetsch was named a Division II second-team All-American as she finished the season with 438 kills and 590 digs for the 19-20 Raiders.

Luisa Hernandez Marin finished her North Platte career with 874 kills, which is second-most in program history, and 1,025 digs.