The Gustavus volleyball team prevailed in a battle of ranked teams as the 20th-ranked Gusties defeated 21st-ranked Saint Benedict 3-1 (25-27, 25-23, 27-25, 25-15) on Wednesday in St. Peter. The Blazers outhit coach Kari Eckheart’s squad 56-51, but committed 11 more hitting errors during the match. Gustavus improved to 22-3 overall and 6-2 in conference play, while Saint Benedict saw its’ 18-game winning streak come to an end as it dropped to 25-4 overall and 8-1 in the MIAC.
Both squads traded scoring runs early in the match as the teams were tied at 23-23. The Gusties had two set point opportunities, but the Blazers fought them off with kills from Kayli Schumacher and Chelsie Sobieck. Saint Benedict went on to close out the set 27-25 after Emma Jaynes and Calleigh Brown recorded kills.
Tension began to build in the second set as the score was knotted at 17-17 before the Blazers took a 21-17 lead after a series of Gustavus hitting miscues. The Gusties battled back to tie the score at 23-23 due in part to two service aces from Emily Klein (Sr., Red Wing, Minn.). Meghan Gehring (Jr., Eau Claire, Wis.) then hit a pair of kills to help Gustavus even the match at one set each.
The Gusties carried their momentum into the third set as they built a 16-12 lead, but saw the margin evaporate as Saint Benedict used five kills from Jaynes to tie the score at 23-23. Gustavus won the tight set after a kill from Gehring and a Blazer error.
The fourth set seemed to be headed towards a dramatic finish as in the previous sets with the teams tied at 11-11. However, the Gusties closed out the match with a 14-4 run as the Gustavus hitters began to find their rhythm en route to hitting .286 in the set.
The Gusties had a balanced offensive attack as four players tallied ten or more kills, including Meghan Gehring at 14, Nicki Ainsworth at 12, and Britta Bolm and Olivia Warren at 10 each. Emily Klein recorded seven of Gustavus’ 11 service aces and posted a match-high 20 digs. Bridget Burtzel distributed 45 assists. Four Blazers also reached double-digit kills with Emma Jaynes leading the way with 15.
Gustavus will face 12th-ranked Concordia on Friday at Gus Young Court as MIAC playoff berths and seeds are at stake.