For the first time this season, the Minnesota State volleyball team has fallen under .500 this season with a pair of losses against No. 7 Concordia-St. Paul and Upper Iowa.
The Mavericks had a tough outing against the top 10 in the Golden Bears, getting swept in three sets (25-14, 25-12, 25-12). Minnesota State was outclassed by their opponent and couldn’t manage to find a way to stay in the game after a couple of well played early games in the first two sets.
In the loss, Ellie Danielson led the team with six kills, while Mara Quam was the only one able to find an ace in the match. Quam also led the Mavericks with 16 digs.
The Mavericks had a chance to turn things around on their home court on Saturday afternoon against the Upper Iowa Peacocks. Although they came out unsuccessful, they did so with a lot of fight in them.
The Mavericks got off to a slow start, dropping the first three points. Despite getting a few points back due to the Peacocks’ mistakes, the deficit continued to grow for Minnesota State.
MSU fought their way back into it, bringing it to an 11-9 game for the UIU with the help of three kills from Jessica Nelson.
Following Abigail Wolfe’s kill straight to the face of a Peacocks’ defender and a great offensive rally from the Mavericks, the game came tied for the first time in the set at 15.
When UIU got back on top at 20-17, head coach Corey Phelps was forced to take a timeout to slow the momentum.
Phelps’ plan worked like a charm, tying the game at 21, and this time, forcing their opponent to take their first match of the set.
This time, the timeout worked in the favor of Upper Iowa, earning the next four points and closing out the set 25-21.
Set two came as a bit more of a struggle, with UIU starting out with a 7-1 score, forcing a timeout from MSU in an attempt to calm down his players and get them back in the game.
Ellie Danielson delivered a fierce kill to earn the first point since the timeout, but dropped the next two points.
As their deficit gets smaller and the crowd gets louder, the Mavericks keep fighting for their chance to make it an even 1-1 match.
The game is brought to 23-18, but a failed block from MSU brings it to set point.
The Mavericks got off to a phenomenal start in set three with a 3-0 lead.
Upper Iowa was able to get back in it and tie the game at four a piece, then took their first lead of the set at 5-4.
The Mavericks were poised to take at least one set off of the Peacocks, extending their lead to 14-9 in set three.
In their toughest stretch of the match, the Mavericks found their lead getting smaller and smaller, eventually at 22-19.
With some great team play, the Mavericks carried on their lead to a 25-20 set win and forced a fourth set.
While the Mavericks are wanting to complete a reverse sweep, Upper Iowa had other plans.
The fourth set started out with a 5-0 lead for UIU, with Phelps calling a timeout almost immediately.
Despite getting the first point following, the lead for Upper Iowa only kept growing.
The Peacocks went on to win the set 25-13, and the match 3-1.
After a strong third set, Phelps described their early fourth set stumble as the “first piece of the snowball that started the avalanche” in their last fighting chance.
“It’s disappointing,” Phelps said.
On a five game skid currently, the Mavericks have a mid week matchup against No. 11 Winona State Wednesday, followed by a two game series at home against MSU Moorhead, and Northern State.
While Winona State is a tough team to beat, having been swept by them earlier this season, Phelps knows his team is up to the challenge.
“We know what they’re going to do, they’re a tough volleyball team. …We have the ability, if we can just keep the mentality and the confidence up, we’ll be fine,” Phelps said.