The Gustavus volleyball team lost 3-1 to St. Ben’s in the semifinals of the MIAC Playoffs in St. Peter on Thursday evening. The Blazers, who were the #6 seed, topped the Gusties, who were the #2 seed, by the scores of 30-27, 24-30, 30-24, and 30-22. Gustavus drops to 18-9, while St. Ben’s advances to the MIAC championship match with a record of 15-12. The Blazers will face #1 seed Concordia, which defeated St. Thomas 3-0 in Moorhead.
The Blazers jumped out to a 14-7 lead in the first game when Andrea Millerbernd hit a shot and Gustavus was unable to return it. The Gusties fought hard and found themselves down 23-26 after Jennifer Thelemann (Jr., Le Sueur, Minn.) recorded a kill. However, the lead was too large and the Blazers held on for a 30-27 victory.
Gustavus was trailing 16-17 in the second game when Danielle Gimmestad (Fy., Marshall, Minn.) notched an important kill to end a long rally. A couple points later the Gusties took a 20-19 lead and never looked back winning ten of the final 15 points for a 30-24 win. Gustavus had a 0.286 attack percentage in the game, which was the best of the match.
The score was knotted at 11-11 in the third game when St. Ben’s took the lead after a Gustavus error. The Blazers built their lead to 23-16 after Emma Jaynes recorded a kill. The Gusties were unable to overcome this lead as the Blazers won the important third game 30-24.
The Blazers took a 9-3 lead to start the fourth game, but Gustavus won five of the next six points to pull within two at 8-10. However, the momentum quickly switched over to the Blazers, who won 13 of the next 17 points to take a 23-14 lead. St. Ben’s extended its lead to 28-18, the biggest of the night. A few points later the Blazers closed out the match when Theresa Naumann recorded a kill to give St. Ben’s the decisive 30-22 win.
Andrea Kron (Jr., Cold Spring, Minn.) led Gustavus with 18 kills. Thelemann and Becca Thompson (Sr., Mankato, Minn.) each had 14 kill for the Gusties, while Teri Knapper (17), Jaynes (15), and Millerbernd (15) combined for 47 kills for the Blazers. Laura Zwach of St. Ben’s led all players with 39 defensive digs, while Emily Klein (So., Red Wing, Minn.) for the Gusties had 30. Beth Hanson had 54 set assists for St. Ben’s and Bridget Burtzel (So., Cold Spring, Minn.) had 48 for Gustavus.
Gustavus sophomore libero Emily Klein recorded 30 digs in the match pushing her season total to 648 and setting a new Gustavus record for digs in a season. The old mark was 630 set by Linn Erickson in 1985.
Andrea Kron also wrapped up a strong season with 410 kills, which is the fifth highest single season total in school history. Kron currently ranks 10th on the Gustavus career kills list with 1,026.
There is an outside chance that Gustavus could still receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament as the Gusties were ranked #7 in the most recent Central Region poll. The NCAA Tournament pairings will be announced late Sunday night or early Monday morning. You can access the Division III Tournament draw at this link.