The University of Minnesota, Morris volleyball team won three home matches. On Friday, the Cougars posted two wins. They opened the night with a 3-0 win over Upper Midwest Athletic Conference power Northwestern, and then closed it with a come-from-behind, 3-2 win over Coe College. On Saturday, the Cougars won their fourth straight match with a 3-0 victory over visiting Crown College.
At 16-11, coach Chad Braegelmann sets a new personal high for wins at UMM, bettering last year's total of 15.
The Cougars swept the defending UMAC champions by scores of 25-22, 25-22, and 25-23, besting Northwestern for the first time since 2004.
"This is definitely another step in the right direction for our program," Braegelmann said. "In order to be the best you have to beat the best and Northwestern has been consistently the team to beat in the UMAC. They helped us out tonight with some hitting errors, but I thought our team did a great defensive job, both at the net getting blocks and touches, and in the back row where we did a good job of keeping balls alive."
In the win over the Eagles, the Cougars avenged their earlier 3-0 loss in St. Paul earlier this season. UMM scored four of the final five points to take the first set and three of the final four in their second-set win. Things were different, though, in the high drama third set.
The Cougars had a three-point lead at 23-20 after a Steph Schmiesing kill, but the Eagles answered with back-to-back kills, and after a UMM attack error, trailed just one at 24-23. Clinging to a one-point lead the Cougars went back to Schmiesing for the winning kill.
Later, against Coe, the Cougars dropped the opening set 25-23, but came back to dominate sets two and three by scores of 25-16 and 25-15. UMM hit an impressive .464 in the set-two win, while holding Coe to a mere -.097
The Kohawks evened the match in the fourth set with a 25-19 win, before the Cougars closed it out with a 15-13 win in the fifth and final set.
The Cougars began the final frame by spotting the Kohawks three points at the start and never led until the score was 14-13. Trailing 11-13 and on the brink of a loss, back-to-back kills form Megan Theis tied the match, and back-to-back aces from Natalie Thomas gave the Cougars the win.
Jordan Olerud was the star of the night, logging double-digit kills in each match and 26 on the night. The senior had 10 kills against no errors, while hitting .556 to lead her team to victory over Northwestern. Against Coe she had 16 kills, while taking a team-high 39 swings.
Kaylie Clark had 13 kills against Coe, and Theis had 12. That same pair also had nine and seven, respectively, in the win over Northwestern.
The Cougars improved to 8-3 in the UMAC Saturday with a 3-0 win over visiting Crown and remain one game out of second place in the hunt for a home play-off spot.
Hosting their annual "Dig Pink" match, in conjunction with the AVCA and the Side-Out Foundation to raise awareness for Breast Cancer awareness, the Cougars donned pink jerseys and used pink balls on their way to the sweep by scores of 25-23, 25-19, and 25-16.
UMM has now won nine of their last 10. The Cougars were a little slower than usual out of the gate and allowed Crown to hang around in the opening set.
Late in the set, the Cougars found themselves looking up at the Storm, trailing by one at 23-22. A Crown error tied the match and gave the ball back to the Cougars, who closed out the win for the early 1-0 lead. It was a sign of relief after the win, as the set was tied 17 different times and featured nine separate lead changes.
The Cougars didn't leave much more breathing room in the second set, despite their four-point run at the start. Another back and forth match saw eight more ties, including at 18-18 tie after an Alycia Heisler attack error. Errors plagued the Cougars all match, but especially in the second set where they committed a match-high nine and hit just .140.
A regrouped set of Cougars came back after the error and scored seven of the next eight to take set two.
The momentum from the end of the second set carried over into the start of the third as the Cougars quickly ran out to a 10-1 lead. Out in front, UMM never looked back and closed the match on a six-point run.
Theis and Allie Humphrey led the offense with eight and six kills, respectively, with Humphrey hitting an impressive .455, making just one error.
Eighteen different players saw the court for the Cougars with 12 recording a kill. UMM finished with 36 kills in the match while holding Crown to just 23. Thomas racked up 17 set assists in running the offense and Brita Humphrey led the defense with 13 digs