Volleyball Looks To Keep Rolling, Hosts Bethel Saturday In MIAC Championship

Posted on November 6th, 2015 by

ST. PETER, Minn. – After a convincing straight-set victory over Saint Mary’s on Thursday night in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Playoff Semifinals, the top-seeded Gustavus volleyball team is primed and ready to host No. 2-seed Bethel University for the conference championship at 7 p.m. Saturday. The Royals reached the title match with a 3-1 win over Saint Benedict.

Live online coverage of tomorrow night’s match begins at 6:30 p.m.

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HOW THE GUSTIES GOT HERE

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 extended their program record win streak to 26 matches and improved to 26-2 overall.

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

WHAT HAPPENED IN THE REGULAR SEASON – GUSTIES VS. ROYALS

The Gustavus volleyball team won its seventh consecutive match on Sept. 16 in Arden Hills, Minn., defeating Bethel 3-1 to begin the MIAC schedule. The Gusties won by set scores of 28-26, 27-25, 15-25 and 25-15 for their first win against Bethel since 2008, ending a seven-match losing streak against the Royals.

Trautman proved to be a threat on both sides of the ball, recording her first career double-double with 10 kills and 10 digs. Trautman led the team with 30 total attacks and had five errors for an attack percentage of .167.

In the first set, the Gusties and Royals battled back and forth with eight lead changes in the first 36 volleys, leading to a 19-19 tie. Bethel then scored three consecutive points to take a 22-19 lead, forcing a Gustavus timeout. After the break the Gusties took four of the next five points to take a 25-24 advantage and held set point. But the Royals responded with the next two to take the lead back. The Black and Gold then answered with three straight points, ending the set on a Bethel attack error.

The second set was tightly contested as well, as the two squads never played outside a three-point spread. Tied at 25, the Royals faltered with consecutive attack errors and the Gusties took a 2-0 lead in the match.

Bethel came out in the third with a renewed sense of urgency and claimed the first five points. Gustavus battled back to get within two points three times at 7-5, 13-11 and 16-14, but the Royals went on a tear, closing out the set on a 9-to-1 run. Bethel was efficient on the attack in the third, hitting at a .312 percentage while the Gusties shot .091.

The Gusties put their mediocre third set behind them and took control of the fourth from the get-go. Gustavus opened the set with a 3-1 lead and never looked back. The Black and Gold led 10-4 early in the set, but the Royals battled back with a 7-to-3 run to make it 13-11, which forced a Gustavus timeout. After the break, the Gusties regained control of the set and finished it out on a 12-to-4 run to secure the victory.

Along with Trautman, Taylor and Lauren Hanson (Fy., Redwood Falls, Minn.) recorded double digit kills with 10 each.

Luethmers and Becca Woodstra (Sr., Minnetonka, Minn.) held their own on the back line with 19 and 13 digs, respectively. Marisa Morgan (Rockford, Ill.) handled the bulk of the setting duties with a team-high 35 assists.

THE SERIES

Saturday’s match marks the 52nd meeting between Gustavus and Bethel in volleyball. Gustavus leads the all-time series 27-23-1. The Gusties and Royals have faced each other three times in the MIAC Playoffs and Gustavus has won all three times. The last postseason meeting between the two teams was in 1993 as the Gusties won in straight sets 15-7, 15-7 and 15-7.

SCOUTING THE ROYALS (notes courtesy of Bethel sports information)

• The Royals enter Saturday with a 22-8 record overall, which marks the first time Bethel has eclipsed 20 wins since 2011 and the second since 2007. BU advanced to the NCAA Playoffs in both seasons.
• BU has won seven straight matches and 11 of the last 13.
• This is Bethel’s third MIAC Playoff appearance in the past four years and the 13th since 1999.
• Saturday’s MIAC Championship game apperance is Bethel’s first since 2001, when they defeated St. Olaf 3-1.
• Should BU defeat Gustavus, it would be the Royals’ third MIAC Championship in program history.
• Bethel was seeded No. 8 in the first two NCAA Central Region Rankings, but moved up to No. 5 after defeating Macalester and Augsburg in the final week of the regular season. Interestingly enough, Saint Benedict, who Bethel defeated 3-1 on Thursday evening, was seeded No. 3—behind Gustavus Adolphus and Washington University (St. Louis).
• The Royals are ranked No. 4 nationwide and No. 1 across the conference in blocks per set (2.39). Leading the way for Bethel is Tegan LaBerge, who is ranked No. 10 nationally and No. 1 within the MIAC with 1.28 blocks per set.
• BU is No. 21 among all Division III opponents and No. 1 within the MIAC in assists per set (12.30). Katie Lubben is averaging 7.27 assists per set, while Mikayla Morrow is averaging 4.50.
• Junior Carlee Hoppe recently posted her 1,000th career kill. Hoppe, who has recorded double-digit kills in the past five matches, is averaging 3.34 kills per set.

 

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