Strong hitting combined with solid blocking lifted the Gustavus volleyball team past Bethany Lutheran 3-0 by the scores of 25-19, 25-11, 25-14 in St. Peter Wednesday night. The Gusties hit .293 for the match with 30 kills and just eight errors, and outblocked the Vikings 9.0-1.0. Bethany Lutheran struggled offensively as it finished with 24 hitting errors compared to 28 kills. Gustavus remained undefeated at 9-0 overall, while the Vikings dropped to 3-6 overall.
Gustavus held a small lead at 7-6 in the first set until Nicki Ainsworth (Fy., Eden Prairie, Minn.) stepped behind the service line. Ainsworth went on to score five consecutive points behind two Bethany Lutheran errors and Gustie kills from Meghan Gehring (Jr., Eau Claire, Wis.), Olivia Warren (Fy., Goodhue, Minn.), and Bridget Burtzel (Sr., Cold Spring, Minn.) to take a 12-6 lead. That margin proved to be enough as Gustavus won the set by a six-point margin at 25-19.
The Gusties were only getting warmed up as they went on a 14-2 run in the early stage of the second set behind a balanced offensive attack and aggressive serving that kept the Viking offense out of rhythm. Bethany Lutheran rattled off three points after a pair of kills from Emma Orth and a Gustavus hitting error to pull within 19-8, but the lead proved to be too much as the Gusties took the second set 25-11.
The third set was tied at 3-3 before the Gusties’ front row took over with two block assists and three combined kills from Gehring and Janey Helland (So., Mapleton, Minn.) for an 8-3 advantage that would not be relinquished. Gustavus went on a 7-2 run later in the set to be the set and match out of reach after Malea Noennig (Fy., Norwood-Young America, Minn.) recorded a service at 16-6. The Vikings strung together three points at the end of the set after a kill from Vanessa Harkins and a service ace from Laura Parochka, but Helland closed out the set and match with a kill down the left sideline.
Meghan Gehring paced Gustavus with eight kills and six blocks followed by Olivia Warren and Angela Ahrendt (Fy., Shoreview, Minn.) with seven and six kills, respectively. Bridget Burtzel posted 19 assists in just over two sets, while Emily Klein (Sr., Red Wing, Minn.) reached 11 digs. Gustavus’ hitting percentage of .293 was the highest percentage since September 27, 2006 when the team hit .315 against Bethel. Eva Voss led Bethany Lutheran with nine kills, while Rachelle Rude compiled 22 assists.
Gustavus will host undefeated University of North Dakota at 11 a.m. and Carleton at 3 p.m. on Saturday in St. Peter.