St. Peter, Minn. – Despite a much-improved showing, the Gustavus Adolphus volleyball team suffered a hard-fought 3-1 loss to Saint Mary’s University on Saturday afternoon at Gus Young Court. After the two teams traded the opening two sets, Saint Mary’s won the next two frames to pick up the win and inch one step closer to securing a spot in the post-season. Gustavus drops to 9-19 overall and 3-7 in the MIAC, while the Cardinals improve to 23-7 overall and 6-4 in the MIAC.
Saint Mary’s took the opening frame by the score of 25-22, and Gustavus answered with a 25-15 win in the second set. The Cardinals went on to earn the win with a 25-23 win in set three and a 25-21 victory in set four.
Despite a slow start that saw Saint Mary’s lead 18-6 at one point of the opening set, the Gusties showed great resolve to battle back and push the Cardinals to the brink of a loss. The Gusties went on a 15-4 scoring spree to bring the set score to within a point at 22-21. With a 23-22 advantage, the Cardinals iced any comeback thoughts with two consecutive points to take the first set by three.
Using the momentum it built with set one’s finish, Gustavus jumped all over the Cardinals in the second set. The Gusties built a 13-6 lead and later pushed their advantage to 18-8. The Black and Gold didn’t look back and eventually won the set by ten points, posting 19 kills with a .325 hitting percentage within the frame.
Gustavus started fast in the third, going up 12-5 following a four point run. It was at that point that Saint Mary’s began to mount its comeback. The Cardinals used a 9-3 stretch to cut the lead to one at 15-14. Gustavus scored just two of the next nine points and found themselves down 21-17. Not discouraged by the change in momentum, the Gusties answered with a four point run to knot the match at 21-21. Saint Mary’s responded with the next two points and didn’t let Gustavus close the gap, holding on for the 25-23 win.
In the fourth set, Gustavus made a run early, and Saint Mary’s answered with a run of its own. The two teams went back-and-forth before Saint Mary’s used a three-point swing to go up 19-17. The spree turned out to be the difference and the Cardinals took the set by four.
In an effort to jump-start her offense, Head Coach Rachelle Sherden called on sophomore Rachel Arnold (South Haven, Minn.) to handle the setting duties. The move paid off and Gustavus was a much different team at the net. After posting a season-low team attack percentage of .058 in Wednesday’s 3-0 home loss to Bethel, the Gusties posted a .214 hitting percentage against Saint Mary’s.
Arnold finished with a total of 53 assists, which matches Gustavus’s season-best for any setter this season. She also turned in a double-double with 11 assists to go along with her digs.
Three Gusties finished with double figure kills, the most since Oct. 5 against UM-Morris. Becca Woodstra (So., Minnetonka, Minn.) led the way with 16 kills and a .195 attack percentage. Kelle Nett (So., Spring Valley, Ill.) finished next in line with 15 kills and a .371 attack rate, and Alyssa Taylor (Jr., Trimont, Minn.) rounded out the group with 14 kills and a .235 hitting percentage.
Paige Breneman (Jr., Sherburn, Minn.) paced the defensive effort with her second-best dig total of the season with 29. Haley Zweber (Fy., Rosemount, Minn.) added 10 digs, and Woodstra also had a double-double with 10 digs of her own.
The Cardinals posted a team attack percentage of .172. Alex Peterson led their offense with a match-high 18 kills.
The Gustavus volleyball team will conclude its MIAC schedule with a match on the road at St. Catherine on Wednesday night at 7:00 p.m.