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Cougars split opening UMAC matches

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The University of Minnesota, Morris opened Upper Midwest Athletic Conference action hosting a tri-match with Northland College and Concordia-Moorhead on Friday, Sept. 24.

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The Cougars topped UMAC opponent Northland 3-0 to start the tri-match, and closed with a hard fought 3-1 loss to 23rd ranked Concordia.

On Saturday, the Cougars hosted St. Scholastica and split their conference record with a 3-0 loss.

Now .500 in conference play at 1-1, the Cougars head out on the road this weekend, taking on Northwestern and Crown as they continue UMAC play.

UM-Morris 3

Northland 0

The Cougars began their day with an impressive three-set win, opening conference play in fine fashion.

UMM had to work overtime in the opening set, as visiting Northland pushed the Cougars all the way to a 32-30 final. As the score cruised past 25, the LumberJills took the advantage on three occasions, before the Cougars scored three straight points to close it out.

There was far less drama in the final two sets as UMM won by scores of 25-16 and 25-17.

After a .188 hitting performance in the marathon first set, the Cougars settled down to hit .367 and .216 in the second and third set, respectively.

Megan Theis and Steph Schmieising each hit over .400 in the match, leading UMM to a .243 hitting percentage as a team. Theis knocked down a match-high 10 kills, her seventh match in double digits this season, while Schmieising finished right behind with nine.

The Cougars had four players swing better than .300 in the tri-match-opener as Natalie Thomas and Kelsey Heisler joined Theis and Schmieising on the leader board. In her most extensive action of the season, Heisler finished with five kills against just two errors on nine attacks, as well as a block assist in playing all three matches.

Thomas finished with 37 assists against Northland - on the way to 75 on the night - marking the fifth and sixth times she has went over 30 on the season.

Concordia 3

UM-Morris 1

Thomas and the Cougars saw the strength of the No. 23 Cobbers, right away, as Concordia took the first set 25-10. The Cobbers hit .382 in the opening frame, making just two errors in the win.

The tides turned in the second set, as the Cougars earned the win 25-23. UMM rolled to a 7-1 lead off the start.

The Cougars hit .256 in the set, while holding the Cobbers to just .103. UMM never trailed in the set, although Concordia drew to within one three times before the Cougars closed it out.

Schmieising continued her impressive play, leading the Cougars with 12 kills, which put her over the 20-mark on the night. Allie Humphrey and Kaylie Clark were each next with eight kills, with Humphrey finishing without an error on 20 attacks and holding a .400 hitting percentage.

Jordan Olerud had seven kills in the match, and 15 on the night, as well as a game-high 22 digs against the Cobbers.

St. Scholastica 3

UM-Morris 0

The Cougars put together three impressive sets Saturday, Sept. 25, but met up with a St. Scholastica team who was up to the task, and took the match in straight sets 3-0.

Visiting St. Scholastica took the first set of the afternoon 25-22, scoring four of the final five points for the win. In the second set, the Saints used a 5-0 run to open the game on their way to a 25-16 win. Finally, in the third set, the Cougars pushed the Saints to the limit and beyond, but eventually fell 29-27, ending the match.

UMM struggled with consistency against powerful CSS. The Cougars gave themselves a chance to win on each set before the Saints would pull away late.

Already down 2-0 in a back and forth third set, the Saints worked their way out to a 7-3 lead, but undaunted the Cougars battled all the way back and held a 20-20 tie late in the match.

UMM held leads in both the first and third sets, and the score was tied 24 total times on the night.

Olerud paced the Cougars with 16 and a .324 hitting percentage. Clark was the final player in double figures with 10.

UMM finished with 48 kills in the match, to 44 for St. Scholastica. The Cougars also led the match with 61 digs against only 54 for the Saints. Olerud and Brita Humphrey each led UMM with 14 digs while Clark finished with a double-double at 11.

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