The Gustavus volleyball team defeated Macalester 3-1 (23-30, 31-29, 30-26, 30-27) in St. Paul, Minn. on Wednesday night and clinched a spot in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference post-season tournament. The Gusties improve to 16-8 overall and 7-2 in the MIAC.
The Gusties got off to a slow start in the match as they dropped game one 30-23, and trailed in game two 29-26. However, Coach Kari Eckheart’s squad scored five straight points to win the all-important second game 31-29 and even the match at one game apiece.
Gustavus would go on to claim game three 30-26 and game four 30-27 to win the match. Junior Jen Thelemann (Le Sueur, Minn.) led a balanced Gustie attack with 14 kills. Thelemann became the 19th player at Gustavus to surpass 700 career kills in the match pushing her career total to 705. Three other players recorded double digit kills including Andrea Kron (Jr., Cold Spring, Minn.) with 13, Becca Thompson (Sr., Mankato, Minn.) with 11, and Jessica Plemel (Sr., Owatonna, Minn.) with 10. Gustavus turned in a strong performance on the attack against the Scots with 57 kills in 152 attempts for a .276 attack percentage. Setter Bridget Burtzel (So., Cold Spring, Minn.) recorded 40 assists, while libero Emily Klein (So., Red Wing, Minn.) compiled 14 digs. Thelemann led the team in blocks with 7, followed by Danielle Gimmestad (Fy., Marshall, Minn.) with 6.
With the victory, Gustavus assured itself of a spot in the MIAC Post-Season Tournament. The team is currently in second place in the league standings with a mark of 7-2 and will wrap up conference and regular season play with a home match against St. Ben’s on Saturday (Oct. 21) and a road match at St. Mary’s on Wednesday (Oct. 25). Gustavus can clinch the #2 seed and a bye in the first round of the tournament with wins against St. Ben’s and St. Mary’s. This will be the second appearance in the post-season tournament for Gustavus since the MIAC went to a six-team playoff format in 2001. The Gusties previous appearance was in 2004 when they were the #5 seed and lost in the first round to #4 seed St. Thomas.