Mavericks volleyball struggled to find success in the first two conference matches of the season, losing the home opener against 11th-ranked Winona State (14-25, 22-25, 26-24) and again in Fayette, Iowa while facing the Upper Iowa University Peacocks (23-25, 25-16, 12-25, 23-25). Minnesota State enters this week with an overall record of 6-4 and a winless NSIC record through two conference matches.
476 fans ventured to MNSU’s Taylor Center for the Mavs’ home debut, according to the team’s website. Despite being unable to secure a set in the match, Minnesota State played increasingly competitive throughout.
The Winona State Warriors jumped out to an early lead in the first set as the Mavs suffered at the hands of the Warriors offense. Sophomore Morgan Olson tallied four kills for the Mavericks in the opening set.
The Mavericks adjusted well from the loss in the first set, making the second set a more competitive battle. MNSU improved its hitting percentage from .026 in the first match, bringing it up to .114 in the second. Back-and-forth spurts of scoring was the theme in the second of three sets against Winona. After a 10-10 tie score, the two teams traded blows three points at a time. When one team would score, the other would immediately answer right back. One late scoring effort by the Mavs would bring them close to victory but in the end it wasn’t enough as WSU ended the set with a kill, putting the Warriors up 2-0 in the match. Freshman Alivia Garbe and Junior Sydney Powell made up eight of the Mavericks’ 12 kills in the set. Powell continues to produce on the offensive front for MNSU, as she led both teams in scoring for the match with 14.5 points.
The largest lead for either team in the final set was a differential of three points. Nine different times the lead was changed in this set, Winona being the team who would hold onto the final lead. WSU clinched the match with a block on the last play, spoiling the Mavericks’ home debut.
Junior Autumn Risch and Freshman Micayla Porter both finished the match with 14 assists apiece.
The Mavericks’ second conference match of the season took place just south of the Minnesota border. Minnesota State’s opponent in the Upper Iowa Peacocks began the match with a 9-1 record, losing only to #2 Concordia-St. Paul in their previous match.
Despite an improved performance from the matchup prior to facing the Peacocks, the Mavs were still unable to capture a conference match win. It was anybody’s guess as to which team would win the fourth and final set. After a two-point win in the first for UIU, Minnesota State overpowered the Peacocks in the second to tie the series at 1-1. Upper Iowa would flip the script yet again on the Mavericks in the third set, putting up three blocks on its way to winning for a second time in this match.
Both teams returned to form in the final set, although it took some adjustments from the Mavs to make up for mistakes which gave Upper Iowa an early head start on the score sheet. MNSU recorded a match-high 17 kills during the final set but it wasn’t enough to take it. Upper Iowa went on to win the last set, resulting in a second-consecutive match loss for Minnesota State.
Freshman Mara Quam was credited with 21 digs for the match, Porter and Garbe also had 17 and 11 digs, respectively.
The Mavericks will head to Minnesota’s capitol city next for a match against 2nd-ranked Concordia – St. Paul Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. The Golden Bears enter with a 9-1 record and have wins against both teams that Minnesota State squared off against this past week.