St. Peter, Minn. – The Gustavus volleyball team fell to eighth-ranked St. Thomas on Wednesday night in its home-opener on Gus Young Court. Despite close battles in sets one and three, Gustavus fell 3-0 by scores of 25-23, 25-15, and 25-23. The Gusties drop to 5-4 overall and 0-1 in the MIAC with the loss, while St. Thomas improves to 8-1 overall and 1-0 in the MIAC.
“I’m proud of the way we battled in the first and third sets. We showed a lot of guts tonight and our defense was the best it has been all season. We still need to work on our consistency, but tonight was another step in the right direction,” said Head Coach Rachelle Dosch following the match.
The two squads went back-and-forth through the opening portion of the first set the MIAC season. After Gustavus went on 5-1 run to take an 18-13 advantage, St. Thomas battled back to tie the match at 20-20. With the score knotted at 23-23, kills by St. Thomas’ Kelly Foley and Nicole Potts gave the Tommies a 1-0 lead.
“We came out focused and ready to play from the start of the first set,” said Dosch about her team’s demeanor early on in the match. “I told the ladies that this is how we need to come out every match. Although a couple things didn’t go our way, it was great to see that intensity at home in what was a great atmosphere tonight.”
The Gusties kept stride through the first segment of set two, battling back from down 10-7 to tie the score at 11-11. From there, St. Thomas would outscore the Gusties 14-4 to grab a 2-0 lead after a 25-15 set two win. The Tommies made just one attack error in the set, hitting at a .630 rate with 18 kills.
The Black and Gold bounced back another tightly-contested showing in the third set. Freshman Kelle Nett (Spring Valley, Ill.) served four straight points to give Gustavus a 4-0 lead, and a kill by senior Emily Phillips (Cleveland, Minn.) put the Gusties up 7-3. Gustavus held on to a three-to-four point until a five point swing gave the Tommies a 15-13 advantage. Although St. Thomas took the set 25-23, Gustavus used several small runs in the later stages to bring the score to within a point on three occasions (20-19, 23-22, 24-23). McKenna Reagan recorded the game-winning kill to end the match.
Gustavus finished with a team attack percentage of 1.88. First-year Becca Woodstra (Minnetonka, Minn.) and Emily Phillips led the offense with seven kills apiece. St. Thomas hit .248 on the offensive and picked up a 10-kill performance from Paige Brimeyer who hit .533 in the match.
Paige Breneman (So., Sherburn, Minn.)and Lisa Beacher (Sr., Roseville, Minn.) led Gustavus’ back row with a match-high 15 and eight digs, respectively. Kendra Weege (So., Watertown, Minn.) dealt 14 assists, while Taylor Meurer (So., Nicollet, Minn.) contributed 10.
Rachell Dosch continued to praise the play of her defense, stating, “If we can consistently play defense with the intensity we did tonight, it is only up from here. The challenge is to go back to work the rest of the week, fix the mistakes from tonight, and build on the strengths. Hopefully we can bring a little bit of that fire into another big tournament this weekend.”
The Gustavus volleyball team will be busy once again this weekend as it travels to River Falls, Wis. to take part in the UW-River Falls Invitational being held Friday and Saturday, Sept. 14-15. The Gusties will begin play on Friday with matches against Waldorf at 3:30 p.m. and UW-River Falls at 7:30 p.m.