Volleyball Claims MIAC Playoff Title And NCAA Tourney Bid With Four-Set Win Over Bethel

Posted on November 7th, 2015 by

The Gusties erupt in front of a packed house at Lund Center for the MIAC Playoff Championship. (photo courtesy of AJ Dahm, SPX Sports)

BOX SCORE

ST. PETER, Minn. – It was battle to the end with both teams giving it their all on every volley Saturday night, but when the final point was recorded it was the Gustavus volleyball team that came out on top as the MIAC Playoff champions, defeating Bethel University in four sets 25-20, 25-21, 20-25 and 26-24.

With the win, the Gusties (27-2) are awarded an automatic bid into the NCAA regional tournament, which begins next week at a host site to be determined on Monday. The NCAA Division III Volleyball Tournament selection show, aired live on NCAA.com, begins at 10 a.m.

“I knew it was going to be point-for-point and I cannot believe the fans that we had. This crowd was insane,” Head Coach Rachelle Sherden said. “This conference is so competitive, Bethel is such a good team and there were so many good rallies. The nerves really never calmed down, you just have to learn to manage them.”

Brittany Luethmers celebrates a point in front of an excited student section. (photo by AJ Dahm)

Brittany Luethmers celebrates a point in front of an excited student section. (photo by AJ Dahm)

Gustavus’s unprecedented 27th consecutive victory did not come easy as it battled from behind for a majority of the match. Bethel set the tone early in the first set by jumping out to a 9-4 lead, forcing a Gustie timeout. The Royals continued to put the pressure on with hard-hitting kills, leading to a 16-8 advantage and another Gustavus timeout. Bethel took the next point to gain its largest lead of the set at 17-8, but from that point on the Gusties started to click and immediately flipped to momentum on their side and went on an unbelievable 17-3 run to steal the first set 25-20.

Bethel again started quick in the second set with the first three points, but the Gusties answered with five straight points. In the true back-and-forth battle the entire match was, the Royals responded with a 6-2 run to take a 9-7 advantage. Gustavus regained the momentum midway through the set and the lead at 13-12, forcing a Bethel timeout. The Royals once again took the lead back with three straight points, but the Gusties ensued with four consecutive points to regain the advantage and never trailed the rest of the way. The Royals would tie the score twice at 17-17 and 20-20, but a 5-1 run finished off the second set and gave to Gusties a 2-0 lead in the match.

Another quick start by the Royals gave the visitors a 6-1 lead to begin the third set, but the Gusties rattled off five straight points to tie it up. Gustavus never took the lead, though, as Bethel fended off a late comeback attempt by the Gusties and forced a fourth set with a five-point win.

The 2015 MIAC Playoff Champion Gustavus volleyball team.

The 2015 MIAC Playoff Champion Gustavus volleyball team.

The fourth set proved to be the most exciting as the teams played within a three-point margin the entire set, which included 14 ties and three lead changes. The last lead change was in favor of the Gusties at 23-22 on a kill from MIAC Player-of-the-Year Alyssa Taylor (Sr. Trimont, Minn.). Bethel would tie the score twice at 23-23 and 24-24, but a kill by Lauren Hanson (Fy., Redwood Falls, Minn.) gave to Gusties a 25-24 advantage and a Bethel attack error won the set 26-24 and the match 3-1.

“I told the team at breakfast this morning that the only thing that matters is that we stay true to who we are,” Sherden said. “This team has worked so hard every day in practice and they’ve really walked the talk. There were moments that we weren’t ourselves tonight but we carried it through all the way to the end.”

Taylor led the Gusties on the attack with 16 kills on 36 attempts and two errors for a .389 kill rate. She also added four blocks on the night. All-Conference right side hitter Taylor Trautman (Jr., Hutchinson, Minn.) was the go-to attacker for the Gusties in the early going and she finished with 13 kills and nine digs. MIAC Rookie-of-the-Year Nora Holtan (Rochester, Minn.) was all over the court, making diving saves to keep rallies going and she finished with her first triple-double of the season with 41 assists, 18 digs and 10 kills. On the back line, All-Conference libero Brittany Luethmers (Fy., Prior Lake, Minn.) made a number of key digs to lead the Gustie defense with 21 digs. Abby Leitch (So., Mankato, Minn.) and Anne Ladwig (So., Albert Lea, Minn.) were also key contributors defensively with 12 and 10 digs, respectively.

At the conclusion of the match, a six-player All-Tournament Team was honored, which included Gustavus’s Kelle Nett (Sr., Spring Valley, Ill.) and Holtan. Nett had 17 kills and Holtan had 70 assists, 15 kills and 24 assists to lead the Gusties to the title.

“We talk about how we treat every match the same, but especially for these seniors I am so proud and happy for them after having ups and downs in the previous seasons up to this year,” Sherden said. “I can’t wait to keep this going as long as possible.”

 


4 Comments

  1. gretchen koehler says:

    keep it going fly like a bee

  2. Betsy Barnes Cochrane says:

    So thrilled for you and proud of you ladies!!! Stay in the zone and keep it going.

  3. Paula Manning Fagre (the old #3) says:

    Rock it, Ladies!

  4. Richie says:

    Wish all of you the best! What a fun year being able to score your matches.