Maverick volleyball still unable to capture top-25 victory

The Mavericks volleyball team couldn’t tame the Wolves but were able to slay the Dragons over the weekend. MNSU dropped its second loss to No. 14 Northern State this season in Aberdeen, S.D. last Friday. The 13-1 Wolves defeated the 8-6 Mavericks in a three-set sweep (13-25, 19-25, 19-25). The previous match was also a sweep resulting in a Mavericks loss. This is the first conference match between the two teams; the first took place in the non-conference Max and Erma’s Classic, also hosted by Northern State.

The next day, Sept. 30, the Mavs traveled 175 miles northeast, returning across the border to take on Minnesota State University Moorhead in its most competitive NSIC match yet. Bringing the match all the way to five sets, the Mavericks came back from being down two sets to one and beat the Dragons (25-20, 13-25, 22-25, 26-24, and 15-10). Minnesota State Mankato finishes the weekend with a 1-1 record, the overall record now sitting at 9-6 and 3-4 in NSIC matches. The Mavericks have yet to defeat a ranked opponent this season.

Minnesota State returned to Aberdeen on Friday looking for revenge on No. 14 Northern State after getting swept in their first meeting. Unfortunately for the Mavs, Northern State still has their number. The Wolves improved in nearly every statistical category while MNSU had a similar performance as the previous match against Northern State. One improvement for the Mavs is in the aces, the total increased by five, going from one ace last match to six for the Mavs in this outing.

Things didn’t start too hot for the Mavs in the opening set, and the flame never really sparked. Despite opening up the match with a 3-1 lead, the Mavs allowed Northern State six-straight points, with half of these points being a result of Maverick attack errors. That would be the common theme in the first set. The Wolves picked up another streak of nine; at this point the Mavericks are down 21-16. To soften the blow, MNSU outscored the Wolves 7-4 to finish the set, closing it out with a final score of 25-13, and Wolves victory.

The Wolves started rolling with four-straight points to begin the second set before a kill from Jackie Jones gave Minnesota State its first point. Northern State never gave up the lead throughout the second set and closed it out with three-consecutive points to close it out 25-19.

Minnesota State’s last set at No. 14 Northern State was their best chance at survival to a fourth set. Multiple attack errors committed by Northern State kept Minnesota State within reach of the Wolves. MNSU’s offense turned up when down 17-11. Five-straight points brought the score to 17-16. Freshman Alivia Garbe had two kills and helped teammate Ashton Lee with a block. Once again, attack errors put the Wolves lead out of reach for the Mavs. MNSU lost their second set to the Wolves, 25-19.

A much more resilient Mavs recovered from a hot Dragons offense to begin the first of five sets in Moorhead. The Mavs found themselves down 11-5 after an 8-1 scoring run by MSU Moorhead. The Mavericks responded with a hot streak of their own. Sydney Powell and Jackie Jones contributed three kills together en route to victory. Garbe made sure Mankato stayed afloat, scoring on three kills to bring the score to 18-16, giving the Mavs a lead they would hold onto to win the first set 25-20. Sophomore Alissa Janzig was the final act of the Mavericks’ offensive show with two kills to prevent a Dragons win.

The Mavericks’ slow start over the weekend continued in the second set against the Dragons. For the second time in the two matches, MNSU never gained a lead in the set. The Dragons were breathing fire on the Mavs, jumping out to a 12-4 lead to start the set. MSU Moorhead would not let up, winning the second set 25-13.

After a closer loss in the third set, the Mavs bounced back in the fourth, after trading multiple one-sided scoring runs with the Dragons, and the set was in a dead heat, tied at 24. This time, the Mavericks survived thanks to back-to-back kills from Morgan Olson and Autumn Risch. The Mavs force a sudden death fifth set.

Feeding off the momentum of set four, the Mavericks stood their ground and kept the Dragon out of the castle that is the win column. Winning the set with a score of 15-10 in sudden death, Mankato showed Moorhead who is the better Minnesota State University (at least in volleyball).

Up next for the Mavs is a trip to the Iron Range, facing off against University of Minnesota – Duluth. The UMD Bulldogs enter the match with an impressive 13-2 record and defeated Wayne State 2-1, a team that swept the Mavericks in this season’s opening tournament in Detroit.

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