With a 3-0 victory over St. Catherine on Wednesday night on Gus Young Court, the Gustavus volleyball team clinched a MIAC Playoff berth and is headed to the post-season for the first time in two years. Behind the attack of Angela Ahrendt (12) and Dana Boerboom (10), who combined for 22 kills in the match, the Gusties cruised to a straight-set victory by scores of 25-19, 25-21, and 25-18. Gustavus improves to 19-9 overall and 6-4 in the MIAC with the win, while the Wildcats drop to 17-11 overall and 3-7 in the MIAC with the loss.
“The girls had two really good practices on Monday and Tuesday and they came into tonight ready to go – disciplined and focused,” said Head Coach Rachelle Dosch following the match.
Coach Dosch’s squad knew entering tonight’s contest that a win would seal a playoff berth, but looking ahead to the playoffs was not on the minds of the Gusties tonight.
“The best thing for our team is to take one game at a time,” explained Dosch. “We talk about what we need to do, but not necessarily focusing on future outcomes. I told them that we needed to be successful this week to be able to practice another week and give ourselves a chance for a great new start. Tonight we did that.”
The Gusties grabbed a lead in the first set and didn’t look back, going up 8-2 early and leading by as many as nine points at several occasions down the stretch. Gustavus hit at a .310 percentage in the first set, making three errors and knocking down 16 kills to take the set one 25-19.
After trading points early in the second set, Malea Noennig served five-straight points and Olivia Warren followed with four of her own to give Gustavus a 15-7 edge after a 9-1 run. Warren had three aces within her run at serve. Trailing 22-17, St. Catherine used a 4-0 run to cut the lead to one point at 22-21. The Gusties responded and took advantage of three Wildcat errors to hold on for the 25-21 victory.
The three-headed attack of Warren, Ahrendt, and Boerboom led the Gusties to a match-sealing 25-18 win in the third. Warren led the group with six kills, while Ahrendt had five and Boerboom had four. It was another strong finish by senior Olivia Warren who has made it a habit to end matches on a high note this year.
“Olivia tends to over-analyze her game and she does it while she plays, which -when you’re playing – you don’t want to do,” said Dosch about her senior outside hitter. “We have this saying, “J-P Liv,” which means “Just Play.” We had a discussion between the second and third sets and she came out and finished with six kills in the last set. Olivia knows how to finish and that’s what we need from her.”
The Gusties capped the match with 16 kills and a team attack percentage of .378 in the final set. In the match, Gustavus tallied 43 kills and 11 errors for an attack percentage of .281. It is the squad’s second-lowest error total of the month.
Along with Boerboom’s season-high 10-kill night, junior Erin Sherman was also back on the court for the first time this season.
“We made the change to go with Dana and she stepped up and did awesome,” said Dosch. “Getting Erin Sherman back on the court after missing nearly all of the season with a concussion was also fun. She is a key defensive player for us and it is really good to see her back.”
Paige Breneman recorded a team-high 16 digs, while Malea Noennig set the tone for the Gustavus offense from start to finish. The senior setter recorded 38 assists and was solid throughout the night on defense.
“I commend Malea the most tonight. She set an unbelievable match and was on her game,” praised Dosch.
Stephanie Meschke, who had 10 kills and hit at a .350 percentage, led the St. Catherine’s offense, as Nicole Pothen and Brittni Wangerin each had double-digit digs – Pothen with 17 and Wangerin with 13.
Tonight’s win was Gustavus’ third consecutive 3-0 victory at home. The Gustavus volleyball team will be back on Gus Young Court for its regular-season finale on Saturday, Oct. 29 at 3:00 p.m. against Saint Mary’s.