#21 Wayne State College battled #1 Concordia-St. Paul in a five-set marathon Wednesday evening before the host Golden Bears finished with a 18-25, 25-13, 23-25, 25-20, 15-12 win over the Wildcats in the opening round of the NSIC Volleyball Tournament at the Gangelhoff Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. WSC ends the year with a 19-12 record while Concordia-St. Paul will host the semi-finals and finals of the NSIC Tournament this weekend while advancing with a 27-2 mark.
The first set saw the Wildcats trail early, then pull away late for a 25-18 win. After WSC was down 8-6, the ‘Cats scored seven of the next eight points to take the lead at 13-9. Concordia-St. Paul battled back to knot the set at 13-13, but WSC went on a 8-2 run to take the lead for good thanks to three straight blocks and a Maddie Duffy service ace to highlight the run.
Senior Erin Gross had a hot hand in the first set for the Wildcats with six kills on seven attacks while Jaci Brahmer and Katie Stephens each had three blocks.
The host Golden Bears stormed back in the second set and had 17 kills with a .500 attack percentage to control for a 25-13 set win, evening the match at 1-1.
Wayne State rebounded in the third set, never trailing while holding back a late charge by the Golden Bears for a 25-23 set win and a 2-1 lead in the match. Tied at 7-7, the Wildcats scored six of the next seven points for their biggest lead in the set at 13-8.
Later in the set with WSC leading 21-18, CSP battled back and forced a 23-23 tie. But the Wildcats closed the set with a CSP service error and kill from Tarrin Beller to win 25-23.
Gross paced WSC with four kills in the set followed by Stephens and Jaci Brahmer with three apiece.
WSC took an early lead in the fourth set at 9-5 to force a Concordia-St. Paul timeout, but the Golden Bears used 20 kills in the set to slowly chip away at the lead and finish with a 25-20 fourth set win to force a fifth and deciding set in the match.
The fifth set saw Concordia-St. Paul lead from start to finish, but WSC rallied within one at 12-11 before falling 15-12. The Wildcats trailed early 5-1 to take their first timeout. After getting within two at 9-7, the Golden Bears scored back-to-back points to force another WSC timeout trailing 11-7.
The Wildcats made one last charge at Concordia-St. Paul scoring four of the next five points with the final three coming on consecutive kills from Stephens, Alyssa Ballenger and Gross to get within one at 12-11.
However, the Golden Bears stopped the Wildcat run with back-to-back kills from Brooklyn Lewis and used a kill from Hope Schiller on match point to win 15-12.
Concordia-St. Paul hit .280 in the match with 76 kills, 24 errors and 186 attempts while WSC recorded a .221 percentage on 50 kills, 16 errors and 154 attacks.
Both teams had 79 digs while WSC held a 12 – 6.5 advantage in blocks over the Golden Bears. Concordia-St. Paul had seven service aces and 16 errors while WSC record four service aces with six errors.
Senior Erin Gross led WSC in hitting with 17 kills and four blocks while sophomore Katie Stephens finished with 13 kills and 15 digs along with four blocks.
Junior setter Megan Gebhardt produced 46 set assists with 17 digs while sophomore libero Haley Kauth was credited with a team-best 19 digs. Redshirt freshman Jaci Brahmer notched a team-best five blocks.