St. Peter, Minn. – The Gustavus Adolphus women’s volleyball team was efficient, scrappy, and ready to play in its 3-0 MIAC-opening victory over Carleton College on Wednesday night at Gus Young Court.
“We stepped on the court ready to go,” said Head Coach Rachelle Sherden. “It seemed that even if we didn’t win a point, we came back right away. We had a few goals to focus on and we did that the entire match. Overall, it was a clean and everyone performed very well.”
With the win, Gustavus has now won five of its last six matches, improving to 6-7 overall and 1-0 in the MIAC. Carleton sees its three-match win-streak come to an end and is now 9-4 overall and 0-1 in the MIAC.
Gustavus cruised to the three-set sweep by set wins of 25-19, 25-16, and 25-15. The Gusties hit at a rate above .250 in all three sets, posting team attack percentages of .324, .263, and .273, respectively.
Coach Sherden’s club jumped out early in the opening set, going up 6-2 on a Becca Woodstra (So., Minnetonka, Minn.) ace and later 10-6 on a Carleton serving error. After Carleton cut the lead to 10-7, the margin between the two teams would never be fewer than three points. With a 15-10 lead, Gustavus went on a 6-2 run to go up 21-16. The Knights scored four of the last six points but by that point it was too little, too late.
Despite losing the first three points of the second set, Gustavus made a 7-1 run to grab a 7-4 lead. With an 8-5 advantage, the Gusties used an 8-2 scoring spree to go up 16-8. It was cruise control from that point on, as Janessa Jahnke (Fy., Blue Earth, Minn.) recorded two straight kills and Paige Breneman (Jr., Sherburn, Minn.) closed the set with an ace.
In the third and final set of the evening, the Black and Gold kept to the script. After a 6-1 run put them up 8-3, the Gusties dropped two points before winning four straight to go up 12-5. The Knights cut the advantage to five points at 13-8, but Gustavus answered with another four-point run to go up 17-8. Carleton’s best run of the evening came not soon enough, as Gustavus put an end to any comeback hopes with a point on a serving error and a kill by Jahnke to cap the set and match.
Leading Gustavus’s offense was junior Alyssa Taylor (Trimont, Minn.) who reached double-figure kills for the second consecutive outing. Taylor hit the floor with 12 kills and finished with an attack percentage of .310 – hitting over the .300 mark for the fourth time this season.
Jahnke finished next in line with nine kills (.261), while Kelle Nett (So., Spring Valley, Ill.) had seven (.462) and Becca Woodstra had six (.238).
Paige Breneman led the defensive charge with 17 digs, and Hayley Zweber finished behind her with 10. Breneman also posted four aces to go with a .933 serving percentage.
“Led by an outstanding performance by Paige, our digging was on tonight,” said Sherden “We didn’t let many balls hit the floor tonight and even when they had a big momentum play, we played great defensive after, which made it hard for them to build any momentum.”
Gustavus’s setting duties went to Taylor Meurer (Jr., Nicollet, Minn.) who delivered a total of 30 assists to reach the 30 mark for the seventh straight match.
“When we play loose and focus on our goals, we are tough to beat. That was apparent tonight,” concluded Sherden.
The Gustavus volleyball team will be back on the court Saturday, Sept. 21 when it travels to the University of St. Thomas for a 7:00 p.m. match.