No. 1 Golden Bears Fend Off No. 5 Mustang Stampede, 3-1
ST. PAUL, Minn. - It took the No. 5 team in the nation to take a set from the No. 1-ranked Golden Bears, but Concordia University still came out on top 3-1 to sweep the Mustangs of Southwest Minnesota State in the regular season (20-25, 25-17, 25-15, 25-12). The Golden Bears remain undefeated in the NSIC schedule with a 12-0 record and are 23-1 overall. SMSU's only league losses have been against CU. They are 21-3 overall and 10-2 in the conference.
The Golden Bears suffered their first set loss in ten matches in the opening set of the conference rivalry. The Mustangs of Southwest Minnesota State began the match with fiery blocking, which thwarted the Concordia attack. CU had 11 hitting errors in the first set on their way to a cold .093 hitting average. The Mustangs came up with four team blocks.
After dropping the set, Concordia rebounded to win the next three games, hitting well into the .300's and putting up a blocking front of their own. The only lead for the Mustangs in the remainder of the match was an 8-7 advantage in the third set. The Mustangs cooled from a .250 game one hitting average to the low .100's and even a -.029 mark in the closing set.
Maria Steinhagen showed her leadership on the front line and got her team on track with six blocks (1s, 5a) and ten kills. A night after setting a new career kill high against the Mavericks, freshman Ellie Duffy improved her figure to 17 kills in leading the Concordia offense on the night. She was followed by Whitney Meierotto with a double-double with 16 kills and digs each. Meierotto also had two solo blocks and an assisted block. The fourth Concordia player to enter double figures in the kill column was Sadie Kessler, who swung for 12 kills and also came up with 14 digs.
The Golden Bears hit .299 in the match with 64 kills. Setter Maggie McNamara fed her hitters 55 times and added 14 digs. Concordia's defense had 77 digs, the second best mark of the season. Mary Slinger put up 19 digs, one of four players with double figures. CU finished with nine blocks.
Southwest Minnesota State received 11 kills from Laura Hegerle, the only player to post ten or more kills. As a squad, the Mustangs combined for 37 kills and a .114 hitting average. The defense saved 50 balls and had 7.5 blocks. Brittany Wenzel had a team high 13 digs, followed by Tory Brouwer with ten. Brouwer also had five block assists, as did Kasey Loeslie.
The Golden Bears host Northern State next Friday evening at 7:00 pm. They play the University of Mary on Saturday at 5:00 pm in what will be a special night dedicated to breast cancer awareness. Visit the Concordia athletic website for more information.
Article courtesy of Concordia-St. Paul athletics.