Minnesota State opened their 2016 season with a clean sweep of all four teams they faced, including a massive upset over then-ranked No. 7 University of Tampa.
The first day appeared to be a breeze for the Mavericks, as they faced Franklin Pierce and Pittsburgh-Johnstown. The Mavericks were able to break an eight-all tie and cruise to victory during the first set, 25-15. The second set featured much of the same, as the ending score was the same as the first. The momentum proved to be vital at this point, as the Mavs were able to complete the sweep on the third set with a 25-9 win. As a team, the Mavericks had a 41-18 advantage in kills and dominated in assists with 37. The Ravens of Franklin Pierce only had 17 throughout the three sets. Senior Krista Hassing led all players in kills, tallying 14 along with two blocks. Sophomore Autumn Risch was able to spread the ball out extremely well, tacking up 31 assists.
The ladies would then face Pittsburgh-Johnstown, who would provide some close contests. The Mountain Cats and Mavericks would see a first set that would feature 11 ties and eight lead changes. MSU was able to battle adversity and overcome it as they were able to win each set to earn their second sweep of the day. The Mavericks won each match (in order) by five, two and three points. This time, Senior Sydney Geisness led the Mavericks in total kills with 15. Head Coach Lori Rittenhouse-Wollmuth said earlier this year Geisness would play a major factor into the 2016 season.
“[Geisness] will be one of the best well-rounded outsides in the NSIC,” Rittenhouse-Wollmuth said.
On the second day of matches, the Mavericks would face Henderson State and No. 7 ranked University of Tampa. Hassing set her personal career high of kills, as she notched her 1,000th kill in the second set of the first match. The Mavericks would defeat the Reddies 3-1, giving them their third win on the young season. Hassing would once again lead in kills with 12 for the Mavericks, and Geisness would add 10. Sophomore Sydney Powell, coming off an injury her freshman season, notched eight kills in the contest.
“[Powell] will surprise a lot of people [this season],” Rittenhouse-Wollmuth said.
The final match was against the seventh-ranked University of Tampa Spartans, which would be the match the Mavericks were the hungriest for the entire weekend no doubt. The Mavericks would win the first set, and the Spartans would come back to win the second set. In set three, both teams were deadlocked at 18, but the Mavericks were able to go on a run and claim victory for the third set 25-20. The Spartans would then see an upset become reality, as the Mavs took the fourth and final set 25-18. Just as stated before by Rittenhouse-Wollmuth, Powell would certainly come out and shock the world. She led the Mavericks in kills with 16 against the seventh-best team in the country. Risch was able to notch 142 assists on the weekend, with a career-high 43 assists coming against the University of Tampa.
Minnesota State (4-0 overall, 0-0 NSIC) will next take on the Rockhurst University Hawks on Friday, September 9th. The match will be played in Maryville, Missouri. First serve is set for 9 a.m.