The Gustavus volleyball team posted a five-game victory over #14 Concordia College, the first place team in the MIAC (26-30, 22-30, 30-16, 32-30, 18-16). Junior outside hitter Tara Houlihan led the team with 20 kills and 43 digs, setting a new school record for digs in a single match. With the win, Gustavus improves to 17-6 overall and 6-3 in the MIAC, while Concordia falls to 19-3 overall and 7-2 in the conference.
A balanced attack and strong serving were keys down the stretch for the Gusties. In addition to Houlihan, junior outside hitter Anne Osthus also had a strong game for the Gusties with 18 kills, nine digs and six blocks, while senior defensive specialist Sue Dailey contributed 16 digs and five service aces. Sophomore middle hitter Rebecca Shane led the way for the Cobbers with 15 kills, while senior outside hitter Amy Fitzner had 11 kills and 23 digs on the night.
Concordia jumped out to an early lead in game one, but the Gusties came back to tie the game at seven before building a 22-19 lead. Three Gustie attack errors and timely kills from senior rightside hitter Kris Sather brought the Cobbers to a 30-26 win.
Game two started much the same with Concordia gaining an early 11-6 lead, which they never relinquished. Gustavus brought the game back within four points, but once again, a strong Cobber offense capitalized on some costly attacking errors from the Gusties. Concordia eventually pulled away for a 30-22 win.
The tables were turned in game three as Gustavus led early and dominated down the stretch. Concordia tied the game at two but never again came within reach of the lead. Three straight kills from Anne Osthus and two straight service aces from Jenni Tischer led the Gusties to a fourteen point win at 30-16.
Game four was played much more tightly as the score was tied 21 times during the game. Two straight service aces from Jenni Tischer again gave the Gusties a slight advantage in the game, bringing her team to a 24-22 lead. Concordia broke two Gustavus game points, but a kill from senior setter Rachel Batalden put the game away for the Gusties at 32-30.
The decisive game five was played closely early on, but the Cobbers pulled away to a 13-9 lead under strong serving from senior defensive specialist Sheena Berg and Amy Fitzner. Gustavus, however, countered with some strong serving of their own, again from Jenni Tischer, and strong kills from Anne Osthus to bring the Gusties to a 14-13 lead. Coach Kari Eckheart’s squad broke a Cobber game point after Concordia reclaimed the lead at 15-14, but solid kills from first year outside hitter Andrea Kron, Tara Houlihan, and sophomore middle hitter Becca Thompson locked up the game and match for Gustavus.
Gustavus now looks towards a match at Hamline University on Wednesday and a rematch with Carleton and Macalester at the Carleton Triangular on Saturday.