Volleyball stands tall against NSIC opponents

Minnesota State’s volleyball squad had a much improved outing this past week after losing its two matches the previous week. The team had three matches over the course of this week, Tuesday at No. 2 Concordia-St. Paul and at home over the weekend against University of Mary and Minot State. The Mavs were able to pull off two sweeps at home and remained tough competition for Concordia – St. Paul, despite dropping the match to them in four sets.

Minnesota State played fiercely in its four sets against the second-nationally ranked team. Even statistically out-performing the Golden Bears defensively, with a season-high 10 blocks in addition to the 60 digs recorded for the match in comparison to Concordia – St. Paul’s six blocks and 57 digs.

Head coach Lori Rittenhouse-Wollmuth is proud of the team’s performance against its toughest opponent so far in the season.

“We continue to become smarter volleyball players and reduce the unforced errors. This positioned us to compete and have an opportunity to win,” says Rittenhouse-Wollmuth.

Despite capturing the first set against the Golden Bears and the impressive defensive showing, the Mavericks fell in the last three sets to lose the match. All but one of St. Paul – Concordia’s 51 assists in the match are credited to one player, Elizabeth Mohr.

The loss isn’t necessarily a bad thing as the team showed poise in the match and hopes to use it as a learning opportunity.

“Our program is based on the idea of constant learning and development,” says Rittenhouse-Wollmuth. “The team has really responded with intent and focus after each challenge and set back.”

MNSU seems to have learned from the loss against Concordia as it traveled back home to the Taylor Center to sweep both opponents over the weekend.

Mischief was certainly managed against the University of Mary Marauders. The Mavericks pulled off the fifth sweep of the season, putting on a dominant show for the team’s faculty night. Coming off its third loss, the Mavs rebounded strongly against the Marauders.

There was little resistance from the University of Mary in the opening two sets as the Mavericks went streaking. The first set started with a 5-0 run by MNSU, but UM was able to post four points before the Mavs struck again, this time for eight-straight. Junior Sydney Powell commanded the offense during this stretch with five kills, including four consecutives to bring the score to 16-4.

It was much of the same in the second set, with the Mavericks finishing on top. Another extended point streak of nine highlighted the set, this time it was Freshman Alivia Garbe who generated four points with four kills throughout the scoring bonanza.

“[Alivia Garbe’s] solid serve reception put us in a system where we could take advantage of a balanced offensive attack,” Rittenhouse-Wollmuth said. “She also took some big swings in tough moments to keep the momentum on our side.”

The only lead University of Mary had of more than one point came in the third and final set. The Mavericks saw themselves down on the scoreboard 14-10, a result of errors by Minnesota State combined with the Marauders’ seven kills up to that point. However, the lead wouldn’t be around for much longer as MNSU bounced back quickly, scoring seven of the next eight points between the two teams.

The lead was continuously swapped throughout the remainder of the match, with neither team falling behind the other by more than two points. A fourth set would become a crushed dream for the Marauders when Junior Autumn Risch and Freshman Mara Quam each picked up an assist on back-to-back kills from Powell. Those kills clinched the match for Minnesota State.

The team capitalized on the win for Faculty Night on Friday by going on to sweep another team for Parent’s Night on Saturday. For a second time this season and the first time in conference play, the Mavericks defeated the Minot State Beavers in three frames of the box score (25-14, 25-11, 25-19). The results of this match were not too different than the two teams’ previous meeting in Aberdeen, South Dakota.

The opening set went MNSU’s way early with a seven-point run, giving them a 12-3 advantage over the Beavers. Minnesota State cruised to the first win of three, reaching 20 points before Minot State was able to score 10.
Minot State lasted a little longer in the second round of their fight against the Mavericks but ultimately squandered its opportunity to win. Minnesota State began to run away with it after back-to-back kills by senior Jackie Jones. The Beavers’ defense was stymied for the rest of the match as MNSU collected 10 of their eventual 14 points on kills and aces to take the second set, 25-11.

The match’s concluding set was the most competition the Mavericks saw from the Beavers on Saturday. Minot State’s offense was somewhat rejuvenated in the final frame, managing to land seven kills on the Mavericks early on in the set. The score was tied at 10-apiece before four consecutive points from the Mavs put the Beavers in a familiar spot on the scoreboard.

Minnesota State closed out the match with kills from Jones and sophomore Morgan Olson, along with an attack error committed by Minot State which lifted the Mavs to 25 points and a victory.

With wins against University of Mary and Minot State over the weekend, the Mavs secured the first two conference wins of the season. The team’s overall record improves to 8-5 with a 2-3 NSIC record. Up next for Minnesota State is a rematch at Northern State, which swept the Mavericks earlier this season in the tournament hosted by the school in Aberdeen.

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