Preview: Volleyball Opens NCAA Tournament Thursday Against Wartburg

Posted on November 9th, 2016 by

ST. PETER, Minn. – For the seventh time in program history and the second consecutive year, the Gustavus volleyball team is making an appearance at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament. The Gusties (23-7) received the No. 3 seed in the St. Paul, Minn. regional and are set to face the No. 6 seed Wartburg College (21-5) at 12:30 p.m. Thursday at the Ericksen Center on the campus of the University of Northwestern-St. Paul.

Live online coverage of tomorrow’s match begins at 12:15 p.m.

LIVE STATS | WATCH LIVE

For comprehensive coverage of Gustavus volleyball, please view the 2016 media guide here.

GUSTAVUS VOLLEYBALL PAGE

WARTBURG VOLLEYBALL PAGE

TOURNAMENT WEBSITE

NCAA TOURNAMENT BRACKET

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HOW THEY GOT HERE

After taking second place in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference with a 9-2 league record, Gustavus received a first round bye in the conference playoffs. The Gusties hosted No. 3 seed St. Thomas in the semifinals and won a thrilling five-set match after dropping the first two sets. Gustavus then hosted the MIAC Championship against No. 5 seed Bethel in a rematch of the 2015 title game. The Gusties won the league’s playoff title for the second straight year with a 3-1 win over the Royals.

Wartburg won the regular season and playoff titles in the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The Knights went 7-1 in league play with their sole loss to Luther. In postseason play, Wartburg defeated Central and Coe, both in four sets, the claim the playoff championship and automatic bid to the national tournament.

FAMILIAR FOES

Gustavus and Wartburg have already faced each other once this season on Sept. 10 at the Loras College Tournament. The Gusties came away with a comeback five-set victory with scores of 25-27, 20-25, 25-20, 25-21, 15-10.

Hanna Albers (So., St. Louis, Mo.) led the Gustie attack with 21 kills and a .347 hitting percentage. She also led the back line with 21 digs. Nora Holtan (So., Rochester, Minn.) set up the offense with 49 assists. Sam Haugen (So., Becker, Minn.) was a defensive presence at the net with four solo and two assisted blocks.

Wartburg was led by Aryn Jones with 12 kills and five solo blocks. Maria Brown and Mallary Erbes split the setting responsibilities with 21 and 14 assists, respectively. Erbes was also the defensive leader with 21 digs.

SCOUTING THE GUSTIES

Gustavus’s high powered attack is led by Lauren Hanson (So., Redwood Falls, Minn.) with 398 kills, averaging 3.37 per set. Taylor Trautman (Sr., Hutchinson, Minn.) is next in line with 289 kills (2.51 per set), while Albers has 288 kills (2.77 per set). The offense is directed by Holtan, who is the 2016 MIAC Player-of-the-Year. Holtan has 1,215 assists (9.96 per set) and a program record .484 set percentage. She’s also contributed on the attack with 180 kills (1.48 per set) and a team-best .303 hitting percentage. Brittany Luethmers (So., Prior Lake, Minn.) has been the constant presence on the back line with 589 digs (4.79 per set). As a team, the Gusties average 13.52 kills per set, which ranks 11th in the nation. Their 39.17 attacks per set average also ranks 11th in Division III.

SCOUTING THE KNIGHTS

Wartburg’s attack is led by Jones with 285 kills, an average of 3.13 per set, and a .334 hitting percentage. Claire Willenbring is next in line with 189 kills (2.22 per set). Brown and Erbes have split the setting duties all season long as Brown has 453 assists (4.98 per set) and Erbes has 443 assists (4.92 per set). The Knights spread their defense with Kathryn Nasby and Erbes leading the way. Nasby has 451 digs (4.96 per set) and Erbes has 329 digs (3.66 per set). Wartburg is tough at the net with 193 total blocks, averaging 2.12 per set, which ranks 19th in the nation. Jones is the big presence at the net with a team-best 91 blocks.

 

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