The ladies could not defeat No. 1 SMSU, but swept USF to head home confident
The Mavericks volleyball team lost against its toughest competition of the season but ended the weekend on a high note with a victory. Minnesota State, Mankato’s in-state rival Southwest Minnesota State is the top-ranked team at its level and showed the Mavericks why they deserve the ranking last Friday night (15-25,21-25 and 14-25). MNSU crossed the state border for Saturday’s match against the University of Sioux Falls Cougars.
The second match of the weekend went more in the way of the Mavericks with a clean sweep of USF. The road trip ended with the Mavericks returning home with a 1-1 record for the weekend, leaving the team 12-11 overall with a 6-9 record in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.
MNSU had statistical success in the previous two matches against ranked teams. Despite losing both matches against No. 20 Wayne State (Neb.) and No. 16 Augustana University, the Mavericks had similar stats as the visiting opponents.
The 21-1 Southwest Minnesota State University made for stiffer competition for the Mavericks in comparison to last weekend’s matchups. The Mustangs held a steady lead over MNSU throughout the first set; 10 points were given to SMSU on attack errors committed by the Mavericks. Minnesota State, Mankato’s offense couldn’t get the spark it need and fell in the opening set with a score of 15-10.
The second of the three sets played in Marshall was a harder-fought battle for the Mavericks against the Mustangs. The Mavs slipped to a six-point deficit early in the set, and senior Jackie Jones was a part of the two plays which began a Mavericks comeback. Jones tallied a kill then secured a block along with teammate Anissa Janzig to bring the score to 10-6. A couple of errors from the Mustangs brought the Mavericks even closer to tying SMSU. Jones put up another two points with a kill and a service ace to cut the deficit to two points, 12-10.
Later in the second set, the Mavericks found themselves within one point of the Mustangs following four-straight points including two more kills with Jones and Janzig recording one each. The No. 1 SMSU squad stayed the course and closed out the second set on top of four kills in its final five points scored. The final scoreboard after the middle set showed 25-21, Mustangs win.
There wasn’t much time to breathe in the final set for the Mavericks. The Mustangs went on a tear to start the set, leaving MNSU decimated in a 14-5 hole. Minnesota State was able to score some late points to save some face but the Mustangs didn’t leave much room to do so. SMSU finished off the Mavericks in the third set with a final score of 25-14.
Spirits were lifted after the Mavericks’ second match of the weekend in Sioux Falls, S.D. against USF. The Cougars entered the match with a 13-6 overall record and an 8-7 record in the NSIC. The Mavericks did their best impression of their last opponent by sweeping USF in three sets, preventing the Cougars from scoring more than 20 points in a set.
The first set of the match showed what the Mavericks can do offensively. Jones racked up seven kills in the first set. Mavericks Head coach Lori Rittenhouse-Wollmuth has said that the team has a system that “works.” After the two losses to Augustana and Wayne State, the coach wanted the team to be able to perform consistently throughout a set to get to the next level. The resilience of the Mavericks to fend off the Cougars after a late rally showed how the system can work productively. The final score of the opening frame ended 25-19, Mavericks.
The Cougars jumped out ahead of MNSU 5-1 to start the second set, and the two teams traded points and had the score tied 10-10. The Mavericks wouldn’t allow USF to hang around much longer as the team went streaking on offense to stall the Cougars. Another set victory for the Mavericks followed the 25-18 final.
The Mavericks once again outlasted the Cougars in the final set by scoring several unanswered points on the way to a match win to end the weekend. USF stuck around on the scoreboard until the score was at 16-13 and the Mavericks built on their lead with four straight points. MNSU sealed the deal with a final score of 25-16.
MNSU will have a chance at redemption against the Concordia – St. Paul Golden Bears on Halloween. Last time the teams faced off, the Golden Bears were the second-best team at their level. According to the team’s website, they are now No. 1. Rittenhouse-Wollmuth was pleased with the performance of the Mavs in their last meeting.
“This positioned us to compete and have an opportunity to win. The next step is learning how to close out a set,” said the Mavericks coach after the first match against Concordia on Sept. 19.