No. 1 Concordia-St. Paul Sweeps No. 16 Minnesota Duluth in Rivalry Matchup


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DULUTH, Minn. - Bitter rivals Concordia University and Minnesota Duluth faced off for the first time this season on the volleyball court.  The Golden Bears (21-1, 10-0 NSIC), ranked #1 in the nation, won their 21st consecutive match in the 3-0 decision over the #16-ranked Bulldogs (16-6, 7-3 NSIC).  Tying a school record for consecutive wins, the Golden Bears have swept each of their last eight opponents in three straight games. 

Concordia posted scores of 25-19, 25-21, and 25-15 in the one hour and ten minute win.  The last time the teams met was in Duluth at the 2007 regional championship match, when the Golden Bears snapped a three-game losing streak against the Bulldogs with a 3-1 win.  The win put the team in the Elite Eight and on their way to the NCAA Division II national championship title.

Junior Sadie Kessler and sophomore Emily Palkert each put down 12 kills for the Golden Bear offense.  Kessler did not commit an error in 21 attempts and had a .571 hitting average.  Concordia hit .303 in the win, with junior Maggie McNamara tallying 38 assists and 12 digs for her sixth double double of the season.  The Golden Bears used eight team blocks and 43 digs to keep the Bulldogs to a season low .057 hitting mark.   Whitney Meierotto led the team with 13 digs.  Maria Steinhagen had four blocks, two solo and two assisted.

The opening set was tight until the 14-12 mark with the Golden Bears maintaining the slight lead.  Maria Steinhagen started off a 7-2 run for Concordia, capped by a kill from Whitney Meierotto that stretched the score to 21-14 in favor of CU and forced a Bulldog timeout.  The UMD crowd turned up the volume as the home team won five of the next six points to tighten the game at 22-19, but the Golden Bears closed things out and took the 25-19 win.

A 10-5 CU run to open the second set was negated by the midpoint of the set, due largely from the efforts of Sarah Wyffels.  She notched off a kill and two serving aces to set the score at 18-17 in favor of the Golden Bears, however a single point deficit was the closest the Bulldogs got in the game.  Emily Palkert and Sadie Kessler took control in the front row in the waning points and put down kills for each of the team's final four points on their way to the 25-21 win and a 2-0 lead.

Concordia's defense picked up virtually every ball in the first half of the final set.  The Bulldogs opened the game with a kill, but then became increasingly frustrated by the pressure from the Golden Bear defenders and blockers.  They fell behind 11-1 and their match hitting average sunk below the .100 mark.  A timeout got the Bulldogs slightly back on track and they began to match their opponent more evenly, although they would not close the gap and fell 25-15.

Minnesota Duluth had April Hansen to thank for the majority of their kills.  She put down 14 of the team's 31 kills and was the only player to finish the match in double figures on offense.  Katie Gangelhoff had 30 assists and five digs, just short of the team high six digs that was reached by two players.  UMD stopped the Golden Bears with only two blocks.

Article courtesy of Concorida-St. Paul athletics.

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