Strong defense propelled the Gustavus volleyball team past Hamline University 3-0 (25-23, 25-18, 25-22) Saturday afternoon in St. Peter as the Golden Gusties held a 13-5 edge in blocks. Emily Klein (Sr., Red Wing, Minn.) anchored the back row defense with 28 digs as she became the sixth player in MIAC history to reach 2,000 career digs. Angela Ahrendt (Fy., Shoreview, Minn.) was a force in the middle as she compiled nine blocks and 11 kills. Gustavus improved to 14-2 overall and 2-1 in the MIAC, while Hamline dropped to 10-5 overall and 1-2 in league play.
Hamline used a 6-0 run early in the first set to take a 9-4 lead after a pair of kills from Jenny Nichols and Gustavus hitting miscues. The Gusties gradually cut into the Pipers’ lead until a block from Nicki Ainsworth (So., Eden Prairie, Minn.) and Angela Ahrendt gave Gustavus a 19-18 lead. At 23-23, Coach Kari Eckheart’s squad scored the final two points of the set after kills from Ainsworth and Meghan Gehring (Jr., Eau Claire, Wis.).
In the second set, the Pipers rallied from a 12-6 deficit to tie the score at 12-12 as the Hamline hitters began to find holes in the Gustie defense. After Coach Eckheart called a timeout to regroup her troops, Gustavus scored the next three points to take a lead it would not relinquish for the rest of the set. The Gusties put together a 7-1 run after Hamline pulled to within 18-17 to take the set 25-18, as Ahrendt recorded a kill and two blocks with Olivia Warren (Fy., Goodhue, Minn.) and Britta Bolm (Sr., Alexandria, Minn.) during the run.
Momentum shifted back to Hamline in the third set as strong serving from Amanda Booth and three Jenny Nichols kills fueled a 5-0 rally to gave the Pipers a 10-5 lead. Hamline was in control throughout the set as its margin grew to 19-13, and appeared to be on its way to force a third set. However, the Gustavus offense received kills from Ainsworth, Helland, and Bridget Burtzel (Sr., Cold Spring, Minn.) to close the gap to 19-16. Hamline increased the lead back to 22-17 before a kill from Ahrendt gave the Gusties the side out. The Gustavus blockers took over at this point as Ahrendt, Helland, and Bolm combined to get three blocks and forced the Piper hitters into three other hitting errors to pick up the victory 25-22.
Angela Ahrendt turned in a solid performance at the net as she hit .417 with 11 kills and just one error, while tallying nine blocks (one solo, eight assists). Nicki Ainsworth joined Ahrendt in double-digits with 11 kills to go along with 15 digs. Bridget Burtzel had 32 assists and 10 digs with many of those digs coming late in the third set. Emily Klein led the Gusties with 28 digs as she has now amassed 2,015 digs in her career, while Jenny Ewert (So., St. James, Minn.) contributed 10 digs. Jenny Nichols paced the Hamline offense with nine kills as no Piper hitter reached double-digits. Jackie Kelly earned the double-double with 30 assists and 15 digs. Four other Hamline players reached double-digit digs.
Gustavus will be on the road next week with contests against Bethel University on Wednesday, October 1 and the University of St. Thomas on Friday, October 3. Both games are scheduled to start at 7 p.m.