Young Bruin volleyball team shows resiliency in weekend sweep

"I think we learned we have a big target on our backs," said sophomore Olivia Galas, who on Tuesday was named the NAIA national setter of the week. "Every team is going to give us their best shot."

Bellevue followed its best volleyball win of the season last Friday night with its biggest letdown the next afternoon.

Still, the young Bruins persevered and found a way to go 2-0 over the weekend, improving to 17-4 on the season.

"I think we learned we have a big target on our backs," said sophomore Olivia Galas, who on Tuesday was named the NAIA national setter of the week. "Every team is going to give us their best shot."

Bellevue, ranked No. 15, knocked off fourth-ranked Viterbo in four sets Friday as Sierra Athen had 23 kills and 13 digs, Galas had 57 assists and Madi Evans added 26 digs.

But the next afternoon against a Waldorf team Bellevue has beaten 16 times in a row, the Bruins dropped the first two sets and faced four match points in the fourth set. But Bellevue rallied to win the last six points of the fourth set and won the fifth 15-6.

"We were emotionally spent," Bellevue coach Trish Siedlik said of her team after Friday's win. "I wouldn't say we got outplayed (by Waldorf), we were just flat. A win is a win, but we were really resilient."

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Bellevue has shown resiliency during being an extremely young team. The Bruins have no seniors and one junior on their roster. The lone junior is outside hitter Andrea Carson, who Siedlik calls "an extension of the coaching staff on the court."

Athen (3.61 kills per set) and Carson (2.99) are the top hitters for a team with good depth, while Galas, an Omaha Gross graduate, is 10th nationally in assists per set (10.57).

"We have a lot of people that if they sub in, I have full confidence in them," Galas said.

Siedlik, who won her 400th career match with Bellevue on Saturday, said 14 of the 18 players on the roster stayed in Bellevue this summer, which helped build the team's chemistry. 

"They are good teammates, they are good people, which makes them a lot easier to coach. The energy level is different with this group," Siedlik said. "That starts with one person and has grown from there and that's Olivia. She's has a spunky, carefree spirit."

Bellevue plays another key conference match Wednesday night at home against Dakota State. Bellevue, Dakota State and Viterbo are tied for first in the North Star standings at 5-1. 

"We're in a good place now, but we don't want to get comfortable," Galas said.

In other Midlands notes:

» After beating two ranked opponents on the road last weekend, UNK moved up one spot to No. 3 in this week's NCAA Division II volleyball poll. Wayne State, which lost to No. 7 Concordia Saint Paul in five sets Saturday, stayed put at No. 15.

» Concordia moved into a tie for third place in the GPAC volleyball standings with Saturday's road win over NAIA No. 8 Midland. Concordia had lost its previous nine matches against Midland. Concordia and Midland are tied for third behind No. 2 Northwestern and No. 11 Jamestown.

» Hastings and Concordia each are 4-0 and tied atop the GPAC men's soccer standings. They will square off Saturday night in Hastings.

» Nebraska Wesleyan's women's soccer team is 10-1 after shutting out its eighth opponent on Saturday — Omaha South grad Liz Wolf was in goal for the Prairie Wolves. The 10 wins for Wesleyan, which went 8-8 last season, is its most since 2013 and it still has seven regular-season games left. On Tuesday, Wesleyan entered the North Region rankings for the first time at No. 8.

» Peru State announced that it will add four varsity athletic programs and one JV program next fall. Peru's adding men's and women's bowling, men's cross country, competitive dance and JV volleyball. That will give Peru 13 programs within its athletic department.

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