The University of Minnesota, Morris volleyball team was on the road for two Upper Midwest Athletic Conference matches, falling to Northwestern, but defeating Crown, in four sets each.
Head coach Chad Braegelmann saw some excellent development in his team's play at Northwestern College Friday night.
"We played really hard and smart and we didn't allow them to make big runs on us. That's been a problem in the past. Every time they scored a big point, we answered back."
But the excitement and intensity of the Cougars' play was neutralized by poor hitting in the first two sets, allowing the Eagles to jump out to a 2-0 lead with 25-17 and 25-19 set victories.
The Cougars rallied in the third set (25-19) behind long service runs by Brita Humphrey and Jordan Olerud.
The fourth set stood at 16-15 when the Eagles went on a four-point run and closed out the set and match 25-21.
The match win was Northwestern's 24th straight conference victory.
Allie Humphrey and Olerud led the Cougars with nine kills apiece, while Stephanie Schmiesing added eight.
Natalie Thomas recorded 30 sets.
Brita Humphrey served three aces and Allie Humphrey added two.
Jen Bissel had 11 digs to lead the Cougars with Olerud contributing 10.
The Cougars held on to fourth place, the final spot for the UMAC tournament, with a 3-1 victory over Crown Saturday. With the win, the Cougars stand at 5-4 in the UMAC with an 11-13 overall record.
After dropping the first set to Crown 25-22, the Cougars rallied to win three straight, 25-23, 25-15, and 25-22.
Olerud led the Cougars with 11 kills. Allie Humphrey and Schmiesing added 10 apiece.
Sam Pfannenstein recorded 33 sets to lead the Cougars.
Brita Humphrey recorded 26 digs. Olerud and Michele Hanson each contributed 12.
Brita Humphrey had three ace serves.
This weekend the Cougars host St. Scholastica and Northland College.