The 20th-ranked Gustavus volleyball team defeated its second ranked opponent of the week in a 3-2 win (25-21, 25-23, 25-27, 21-25, 15-10) over No. 12 Concordia on Friday in St. Peter. The Gustie back row players were able to withstand the Cobber offensive attack as Coach Kari Eckheart’s squad compiled 134 digs. With the win, the Gusties clinched a spot in the MIAC Post-Season Tournament as they improved to 7-2 in the league and 23-3 overall. The Cobbers saw their 10-match winning streak come to an end as their record dropped to 6-2 in the conference and 18-3 overall.
Gustavus built a 16-9 lead in the first set before a kill from Concordia’s Katie Vohnoutka and a Gustie hitting error cut the margin to 19-18. The Gustavus defense fueled a 3-0 run as Olivia Warren (Fy., Goodhue, Minn.) hit a pair of kills down the line to bring the score to 22-18. Angela Ahrendt (Fy., Shoreview, Minn.) sealed the set for the Gusties at 25-21.
The second set was a back-and-forth battle featuring great defense from both squads until Concordia held a 20-16 advantage. However, the Gusties responded with a 4-0 run to even the score at 20-20 after Cobber miscues and a kill from Nicki Ainsworth (So., Eden Prairie, Minn.). The teams traded points until Gustavus had a slim 24-23 lead. In a lengthy tense rally, Meghan Gehring (Jr., Eau Claire, Wis.) put down a kill to put the Gusties ahead two sets to none.
Concordia fought back in the third set and showed it would not go down without a fight as the Cobbers raced out to a 16-7 lead. Coach Eckheart’s team showed its resiliency as it clawed back into the set with a 12-3 run to tie the score at 19-19 after a service ace from Andrea Smilanich (Sr., South St. Paul, Minn.). A kill by Warren down the line off a block saved Concordia’s first set point opportunity. Gustavus served for match point at 25-24, but Jill Hance tipped to ball over the net on the second contact to keep the Cobbers in the contest. The next two points went in favor of Concordia 27-25.
With the score tied at 11-11 in the fourth set, the Cobbers used a 7-0 run to break out to an 18-11 edge. Gustavus cut the lead to 21-20 as Ahrendt tallied another kill. However, Concordia scored four of the next five points to force a deciding fifth set.
The Gusties picked up the level of intensity in the last set as they hit .344 on 11 kills and zero errors and recorded three blocks. Kills from Gehring and Ahrendt gave Gustavus a 9-5 advantage when Concordia was forced to call timeout. It did not slow down the Gusties, though, as the team and the enthusiastic crowd began to feel the upset coming. Britta Bolm (Sr., Alexandria, Minn.) found the middle of the court with a kill to seal the victory for Gustavus.
Olivia Warren paced the Gustavus attack with 18 kills followed by Angela Ahrendt with 15, Meghan Gehring with 14, and Nicki Ainsworth with 13. Emily Klein (Sr., Red Wing, Minn.) posted the sixth 40-dig match of her career with 42 digs, while five other Gusties reached double-digit dig totals. Bridget Burtzel (Sr., Cold Spring, Minn.) amassed 63 assists in the winning effort. Katie Vohnoutka led Concordia with 19 kills, while Allie Burnside had a team-high 33 digs in just four sets.
Gustavus will face Macalester on Wednesday in St. Paul at 7 pm before wrapping up the regular season against Saint Mary’s on Saturday in Winona at 3 p.m. The Gusties could be the second-seed in the upcoming MIAC Post-Season Tournament if they win their remaining matches.