Rick Pruett reminded his College of St. Mary team prior to its match Saturday against the NAIA’s No. 1 team about the last time an eighth seed beat a No. 1 seed in the GPAC volleyball tournament.

He told them he was involved in that match — not as a coach; instead, he was one of the two officials that night in 2015 when St. Mary, which was 13-17 that season, stunned seventh-ranked Dordt in the tournament’s opening round.

“I told them I’ve seen it happen, so let’s repeat history,” said Pruett, in his third season as the Flames’ coach. “It was fun to see the girls perform and play with confidence, believe that they could beat the No. 1 team.”

The Flames pulled off this year’s tournament stunner by defeating previously unbeaten Northwestern, 25-21, 25-23, 23-25, 25-22. Amber Anderson, a 6-foot-1 senior from Omaha Benson, led the Flames with a career-high 23 kills.

“She’s a big, physical hitter. She just played with confidence,” Pruett said. “All around, I think what stood out to me was that we played really, really good defense. We touched every ball they hit.”

Now the Flames (23-13) will play at fourth-seeded Midland in the tournament semifinals on Wednesday at 7 p.m. Midland, ranked 21st nationally, split a pair of regular-season matches with St. Mary, each winning on its home court.

“It’s a great matchup for both teams. I think it will be a great match,” Pruett said. “If we play to our abilities like we did Saturday night, we have a chance to go to the GPAC final.”

The other semifinal pits No. 16 Concordia playing at No. 8 Jamestown. Jamestown won the regular-season meeting in five sets. The winner of that match will host the tournament final on Saturday night.

In other Midlands notes:

  • With Saturday’s win over Missouri Western, the UNK volleyball team (28-0) clinched at least a share of the MIAA regular-season title with two matches left this weekend. It’s the fourth straight season UNK has won at least a share of the league title. UNK remains No. 2 in the NCAA Division II poll, while Wayne State (22-5) is No. 13. The Wildcats play two top-10 opponents this week.
  • The Concordia women won the GPAC cross country team title for the first time since 2005 as they had three runners finish in the top five Saturday. The Bulldogs qualify for the NAIA national meet, which will be on Nov. 22, for the first time since 2011.
  • On the men’s side of the GPAC meet, Doane’s Alec Wick from Blair was the individual champion. Dordt won the men’s team title, followed by Doane.
  • The Hastings men’s team may be the third seed in the GPAC soccer tournament, but the final is still going through Hastings. The Broncos will host fourth-seeded Briar Cliff in Thursday’s 7 p.m. final — Hastings won 1-0 over the Chargers in the regular season.
  • In the GPAC women’s soccer tournament, the final is on Friday following Tuesday’s semifinals. Midland beat Briar Cliff 2-0 in one semi, while Jamestown and Hastings played in the other.
  • York (13-6) is in the KCAC men’s soccer tournament semifinals, where it faces Oklahoma Wesleyan, ranked ninth nationally, on Wednesday.
  • And it may feel like winter outdoors, but the NAIA announced its preseason baseball poll last week. Bellevue is No. 7 after it went 48-16 and reached the NAIA World Series in May.

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