Volleyball Hosts Bethel Tonight In MIAC Championship Rematch

Posted on November 5th, 2016 by

ST. PETER, Minn. –After a thrilling comeback five-set victory over St. Thomas in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Playoff Semifinals Thursday, the Gustavus volleyball team is set to host Bethel University tonight in a rematch of last season’s MIAC Championship game. The Gusties enter the match with a 22-7 overall record, while the Royals are 19-10 after upsetting top seed Augsburg in four sets.

Live online coverage of tonight’s MIAC Championship game begins at 6:45 p.m. Tonight’s championship match will be broadcast on AM 860 KNUJ with the voice of the Golden Gusties, Tom Wheeler, on the call.




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MIAC Playoff appearances: 26

NCAA Playoff appearances: 5 (1984, 85, 86, 2008, 15)

All-time record in the postseason: 90-56-6

Furthest into postseason: Final 16 (1975 AIAW National Small College Volleyball Tournament)

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The rematch of the 2015 MIAC Volleyball Championship didn’t disappoint on Sept. 14 as Gustavus upended No. 12-ranked Bethel University in a five-set thriller.

“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 (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.

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.”

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Bethel enters tonight’s match with playoff wins over Saint Mary’s in the quarterfinal and Augsburg in the semifinal, both in four sets. Tina Hoppe and Callie Sinclair lead the Royals attack with 348 and 295 kills, respectively. Hoppe averages 3.31 kills per set (4th/MIAC), while Sinclair averages 2.66 per set. Holly Ellwanger and Katie Lubben have split the setting responsibilities. Ellwanger has 628 assists and averages 5.87 per set, while Lubben has 552 assists with an average of 5.16 per set. Dominique Dabu lead the Royals defense with 338 digs, averaging 3.71 per set.


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