Volleyball team bumps, sets, spikes to Homecoming win

by OLIVIA KING

DULUTH, Minn.-Although they may not have had the thousands of screaming fans like the football team, the UMD Bulldog volleyball team bump, set, and spiked its way to yet another victory in its Oct. 13 homecoming match against Winona State University.

The Bulldogs had a 3-0(25-15, 25-17, 25-22) sweep over the Warriors, and did not drop a set all weekend to improve their 6-0 home, and overall undefeated record.

UMD came on strong from the beginning, which was important, said Katie Kuffel, senior outside hitter for the Bulldogs. "We knew going in that we hadn't played very well against them in the past, so we needed to be mentally strong," Kuffel said.

"I was happy with the way they played in games one and two as they controlled the ball well, our setter distributed it smartly and hitters were terminating," said Jim Boos, the head volleyball coach. "Game three was a bit of a struggle as we tended to error but they battled and found a way to win in three, which is always a positive in our conference."

The Bulldogs did indeed have some trouble in the third set when they needed to reverse an early Warrior lead. As they reached the end of the set, they pulled ahead with a slight 23-21 lead. They then took two of the last three points, the last on a kill by Alyssa Nelson, to finish off Winona State.

Kate Lange, the freshman outside hitter from Hibbing, Minn., had a solid performance with a match-high 13 kills, five digs, and three ace serves. April Hansen also contributed 11 kills with only two errors on the night to bring her to an attack percentage of .529. Eleena Iisakka, the junior setter from Esko, Minn., collected 42 assists and helped UMD to a .317 hitting percentage.

The Bulldogs defense also did well in holding Winona State to a .136 attack percentage. Senior libero Allison Fanta led all the defenders with a match-high 16 digs. Senior outside hitter and defensive specialist Brenda Hansen had 10 digs, while Nelson added nine total blocks.

"I'm sure we would all agree that the opportunity [to win a championship] is there with this special group of girls, but it's going to be a very tough road. Our conference and region is stacked with top-ranked teams and it's going to be a battle to get to that final stage even though we have the ability and desire. The important thing is to not look too far ahead because we want to focus on each match before we look ahead to the big picture," said Kuffel.

The Bulldogs will be back at home Oct. 22 when they face St. Cloud State University before the big Saturday game against the University of Concordia-St. Paul, the three-time defending National Champions.

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