Volleyball Advances To MIAC Championship With Straight Set Win Over Saint Mary’s

Posted on November 5th, 2015 by

The Gusties celebrate after defeating Saint Mary's in straight sets to advance to MIAC title match. (photo courtesy of AJ Dahm, SPX Sports)

BOX SCORE

ST. PETER, Minn. – The Gustavus volleyball team showed no doubt in its MIAC Semifinal match Thursday night as it swept Saint Mary’s in straight sets 25-11, 25-20 and 25-18 to advance to the MIAC Championship for the first time since 2008. With the victory, the Gusties extend their program record win streak to 26 matches and improve to 26-2 overall.

“We’ve been harping all year that anything can happen at any moment and it’s so important for our players to hold themselves accountable to being disciplined, playing in the moment and being aggressive,” Head Coach Rachelle Sherden said. “We know we can’t take anything for granted and we can’t take anyone lightly in this conference. We’re not trying to do anything special, but there’s just that added focus and a little more aggressiveness. We now understand that we have to play that way for the rest of the season and the players did a really good job of that tonight.”

MIAC Player-of-the-Year Alyssa Taylor goes up for one of her seven kills on the night. (photo by AJ Dahm)

MIAC Player-of-the-Year Alyssa Taylor goes up for one of her seven kills on the night. (photo by AJ Dahm)

In front of a raucous crowd at Gus Young Court, the Gusties fed off that energy and jumped out to an 11-1 lead in the first set. Gustavus led by as much as 15 points at 19-4 and cruised to a 14-point victory.

The Gusties rolled that energy into the second set as they led 6-2 early. Saint Mary’s fought back and eventually tied the set at 8-8, but Gustavus answered with a 10-3 run to force a SMU timeout. The Cardinals got within four points, but that was the closest margin as a kill from Kelle Nett (Sr., Spring Valley, Ill.) closed out the set.

Saint Mary’s would not go without a fight as it battled point-for-point with the Gusties in the third set. The Cardinals took their first lead of the night at 8-7, but it was short-lived as the Gusties responded with a 5-2 run. SMU would tie the score twice more at 13-13 and 14-14, but three consecutive points by the Gusties forced a Cardinal timeout. After the break, Gustavus took four of the next six points for a 21-16 advantage, forcing another SMU timeout. The Gusties then finished out the set and the match on a service ace by Brittany Luethmers (Fy., Prior Lake, Minn.).

The Gustie attack was well balanced throughout the night. Nett led the way with 10 kills on 16 attempts and two errors for a .438 attack percentage. She was followed by Taylor Trautman (Jr., Hutchinson, Minn.) with nine kills and Alyssa Taylor (Sr., Trimont, Minn.) with seven kills. As a team, the Gusties hit .302 on the attack compared to a .141 attack percentage by the Cardinals.

“The offensive balance is really important for us,” Sherden said. “If the other team is camping out on one of our strong attackers, then it really opens up for our other attackers. We feel very confident in all of them and to be able to mix it up like that is really hard for defenses on the other side because it keeps them guessing. When we spread it out, it’s hard as a blocker to defend that, which is working well for us.”

Nora Holtan (Fy., Rochester, Minn.) registered 29 assists, while Luethmers dug out 12 attacks.

Gustavus hosts Bethel University in the MIAC Championship at 7 p.m. Saturday. The Royals beat Saint Benedict 3-1 tonight. In the regular season, Gustavus defeated Bethel 3-1 on Sept. 16 in the first MIAC match of the season.

 

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