The 5-5 Minnesota State volleyball team entered Thursday’s matchup against no. 2 ranked Concordia St. Paul with an expectation to compete.
And that’s exactly what they did.
Despite being swept, the Mavs were able to push the Golden Bears to their limits in three competitive sets.
The first set began with a service error as the ball failed to make it over the net, giving the Mavericks the first lead of the night. For the Mavs, hope was all they needed and this seemed to set the tone for them. The first set was the most competitive of the night as the teams fought, trading leads and going on runs until the Golden Bears were able to come away with the 25-22 victory.
In the second set, the Golden Bears took the lead early, but the Mavs fought to keep them within reach. However, when the Mavs came knocking on the door to take the lead, the Golden Bears always had an answer. They were eventually able to take a 9-7 lead, but the Golden Bears took charge the rest of the way to close out a 25-17 win.
The third set began again with CSP taking the lead early, but the Mavs roared back to take a 6-5 lead. Later in the match, the teams would go back and forth, tying the game at 11, 12, 13 and 14 before a reviewed play was overturned and gave the Golden Bears the point to go up 16-14. They rode that momentum all the way to the end, finished off the Mavs and completed the sweep, 25-20.
If you attended the game, you wouldn’t have known it was the no. 2 team in Division II playing an unranked, .500 team. Head coach Corey Phelps was very proud of his players despite the sweep.
“It was a good loss for us,” said Phelps. “If we played like that last Saturday (against Winona State), we win.” Phelps was particularly happy with the team’s defensive performance; “I am super proud of them. They stuck to the game plan and were able to compete at a very high level. (Concordia is) too good to stop them all the time, but we were able to slow down enough of their swings, we got good touches and were able to swing right back. That is a game-changer for us.”
Two days later, the Mavs traveled to Sioux Falls, S.D. to take on the Augustana Vikings, hoping that their defensive performance and energy would translate to a series win.
It did not. The Mavs were swept again as the Vikings were able to pull away, led by 47 kills, 17 more than the Mavs.
The first set was the Mavs’ to take, taking an 11-5 lead before the Vikings fought back to tie it at 15. The momentum gained from that run was enough to help the Vikings sneak out of the first set with a 25-21 win. The second set was even closer, as neither team could gain more than a three point lead for the entire game, but the Vikings held off the Mavs’ attempted comeback to secure the 25-23 win.
In the third and final set, the Mavs were defeated 25-19, tying the game only once at seven and never holding a lead.
The mood from Phelps was not the same after Saturday’s sweep.
“We have work to do,” said Phelps. “We’re hurting ourselves unnecessarily right now.”
The Mavs now sit at 5-7 and will be on the road for their next two contests. First is a matchup with the 4-8 University of Mary Marauders Friday, followed by the 2-10 Minot State Beavers the next day.
Header Photo: The Mavericks are 0-4 in conference play so far, but they will have two more chances this weekend to get into the win column. (Dalton Grubb/The Reporter)
Write to Hayden Lee at email@example.com