The Gustavus volleyball lost its first match to a Division III opponent in a 3-2 (20-25, 25-15, 22-25, 25-20, 10-15) decision against St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn. on Wednesday night. Kim Smisek of St. Olaf led all hitters with 20 kills followed closely by teammate Jessica Levin at 19 kills. The Gustie hitters struggled against the St. Olaf defense as the Oles recorded 80 digs and outblocked Gustavus 13.0 to 8.0. Gustavus fell to 13-2 overall and 1-1 in conference play, while St. Olaf improved to 11-4 overall and 2-1 in the MIAC.
Gustavus started slow offensively as Coach Kari Eckheart’s squad had eight kills in the first set, while St. Olaf hit 14 kills for a .244 hitting percentage to take the set 25-20. The Gusties found a way to win the second set 25-15 by forcing the Oles to hit more errors than kills. Both squads raised their levels of play to split the third and fourth set with St. Olaf winning the third 25-22 and Gustavus taking the fourth 25-20.
In the deciding set, the Oles used a 6-1 run to take a 12-6 lead. The Gusties did not give up as they scored four straight points to reduce the deficit to 12-10. St. Olaf scored the next three points behind kills from Levin and Smisek for the set at 15-10.
Meghan Gehring (Jr., Eau Claire, Wis.) paced Gustavus with 16 kills, but no other hitters reached double-digit kills in the loss. Bridget Burtzel (Sr., Cold Spring, Minn.) tallied 34 assists and Emily Klein (Sr., Red Wing, Minn.) led the defense with 12 digs. The Gusties struggled behind the service line as they had 13 serving errors compared to only five aces. In addition to her 20 kills, the Oles’ Kim Smisek added 21 digs for the double-double. Kelly Prunty also compiled 49 assists as St. Olaf defeated Gustavus for the first time since 2005.
Gustavus will continue its conference schedule against Hamline on Saturday at 3 p.m. in St. Peter.