Volleyball Opens MIAC Play With Five-Set Win Over No. 12 Bethel

Posted on September 14th, 2016 by

The Gusties celebrate a point against Bethel in the MIAC opener. (photos by Roisen Granlund '17)

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ST. PETER, Minn. – The rematch of the 2015 MIAC Volleyball Championship didn’t disappoint Wednesday night as Gustavus upended No. 12-ranked Bethel University in a five-set thriller. The MIAC opener victory moves the Gusties to 8-2 overall and 1-0 in the league, while the Royals drop to 8-2 overall and 0-1 in the conference.

“This game was just scrapping back and forth,” Head Coach Rachelle Sherden said. “I thought both teams played well defensively. We prepared for them the best we could and we defended them well, which helped. It was a fun win to open conference against a nationally ranked team. Thinking about last year and the history that we have with them, it was a lot of fun and very competitive.”

Nora Holtan set career highs in assists, kills, and digs in the five-set win over Bethel.

Nora Holtan set career highs in assists, kills, and digs in the five-set win over Bethel.

Nora Holtan (So., Rochester, Minn.) continued to impress as the Gustie setter tallied her second career triple double – the first coming against Bethel in last year’s title game. Holtan finished with career-highs in assists (55), kills (16), and digs (22), to go along with an incredible .593 attack percentage (16-27 with zero errors).

“Tonight was the smartest I’ve ever seen Nora play,” Sherden said. “Her ability to read the court is outstanding, both setting and attacking, but tonight it was a whole ‘nother level. She was in the zone.”

Hanna Albers (So., St. Louis, Mo.) also had a big game with a team-high 19 kills on 59 attempts and seven errors for a .203 attack rate. Lauren Hanson (So., Redwood Falls, Minn.) was next in line with 17 kills (.271), while Brittany Luethmers (So., Prior Lake, Minn.) dug out 29 attacks.

The Gusties and Royals battled point-for-point early in the first set, leading to a 10-10 tie, but that’s when Gustavus took control with a 7-3 run. Bethel fired right back and stole the momentum with a 11-1 run and won the set 25-20.

Gustavus responded by taking a 7-3 advantage early in the second, forcing a Bethel timeout. The Royals would come within two points at 10-8 and 11-9, but the Gusties kept extending their lead en route to a convincing 11-point victory.

Hanna Albers posted a career-high 24 kills.

Hanna Albers posted a career-high 24 kills.

The Royals had to battle from behind in the third set, trailing 9-3 in the early-going. At that point the tides turned and the visitors went on an 11-4 run to claim a 14-13 lead. The Black and Gold reclaimed the lead with a 6-2 spree, but once again the Royals fought back and won the following seven volleys, which included three consecutive service aces, and won the set 25-21.

With their backs against the walls, the Gusties jumped out to a 7-5 lead in the fourth. Bethel responded with six straight points to put the pressure back on the home squad. Gustavus answered by slowly climbing back into the lead, eventually taking a 15-14 advantage and forcing a Bethel timeout. The Gusties never let go of the lead and forced a deciding fifth set with a 25-22 win.

The Royals maintained a lead for the first 13 volleys of the fifth set, but the Gusties came through in the clutch with a 8-2 run, forcing two Bethel timeouts in the process. The final kill came from Hanson, set up by Holtan, for a 15-11 victory.

Gustavus was efficient on the attack, hitting at a .274 clip, compared to a .165 rate by the Royals.

“We have gone to five sets in so many matches this year and there’s never been a moment where I looked at the team going into the fifth and doubted them,” Sherden said. “‘We love tough’ is one of our phrases this year, and clearly the players have proven that. They’ve been performing really well in those fifth sets.”

Gustavus next travels to Eau Claire, Wis. on Saturday to face Lakeland and Dominican in the UW-Eau Claire Tournament.

 


One Comment

  1. gretchen Koehler says:

    awesome first MIAC win