Fueled by a Gustavus season-high 23 kills by junior Becca Thompson (Mankato, Minn.), the Gustavus volleyball team closed out their season with a 3-2 victory over Saint Mary’s. The Gusties end the season 14-11 overall, 5-6 in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Saint Mary’s slid to 10-15 overall and 3-8 in the league.
Gustavus jumped out to a 2-0 lead before Saint Mary’s charged back to take games three and four to force a deciding fifth game. The Gusties, however, would hold off a late charge by the Cardinals to take game five, 16-14.
In the first game, Gustavus fell behind early, but battled back to tie the score at 4-4 and never looked back after that, claiming the 30-18 victory.
The Gusties took the early lead in game two, leading 3-1 before the Cardinals rattled off ten straight points to take an 11-3 lead. Gustavus came charging back, though, eventually tying the score at 20-20. The teams traded the lead back and forth down the stretch, but the Gusties fought off a pair of Cardinal game points and won 11 of the last 16 points to take the game, 33-31.
Game three was close throughout. Trailing 29-25, Gustavus sweated out four game points to tie the score at 29. It was not enough, though, as Carolyn Kiefer teamed with Lisa Engdahl to block a Becca Thompson attempt and then secured the 31-29 victory with a kill.
Saint Mary’s evened the match at two games apiece with a 30-25 win in game four. The Cardinals took the lead at 23-22 on a Gustie attack error and never looked back, scoring the final four points of the game to force the decisive fifth game.
Sophomore Andrea Kron (Cold Spring, Minn.) gave Gustavus a 14-11 lead with a kill late in game five, but Saint Mary’s rallied to tie the score at 14. It was not enought for the Cardinals, though, as kills by Kron and first-year Bridget Burtzel (Cold Spring, Minn.) gave the Gusties the 16-14 win in game five.
Gustie outside hitter Becca Thompson led all players with a game-high 23 kills. She was followed closely by Cardinal senior Lisa Engdahl, who registered 22 kills and 17 digs. Molli Dant added 18 kills and 26 digs for Saint Mary’s, while Kron and sophomore Jennifer Thelemann (Le Sueur, Minn.) added 17 kills apiece for Gustavus. Burtzel and junior Rachelle Jakobs (Montevideo, Minn.) added 32 and 30 assists, respectively.
It was a busy night at the net for both Gustavus and Saint Mary’s as the teams combined for 28.5 total team blocks.
With a kill early in game two, Andrea Kron became the 23rd Gustavus volleyball player to amass 600 career kills. During the match, Kron vaulted past Stephanie Kidder (600) and Britt Miller (605) into 21st place on the Gustavus career kills list with 614 kills. The pursuit of Kathy Kneeland (20th place, 633 kills) must wait until next season.
At 5-6 in the MIAC, the Gusties finish in a three-way tie for fifth place with St. Olaf and Bethel. Gustavus will be on the outside looking in at the six-team MIAC Playoffs, though, because the Gusties lost to both the Oles and Royals this season.