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Cougars sweep final home stand

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The University of Minnesota, Morris volleyball team made quick work of their opponents Tuesday, with a pair of sweeps over Presentation and North Central.

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On Senior Night in the P.E. Center, the Cougars were led by their veteran, as Natalie Thomas posted 51 total assists in the two matches, while adding seven kills and six aces.

Opening the evening with a crucial Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) match, the Cougars did themselves a favor in the league standings, bettering Presentation 25-18, 25-12, and 25-20. Then before the night ended, they defeated North Central 25-9 and 25-6, before the Cougars' freshmen and sophomores finished off the win with a 25-18 tally in the third set.

The Cougars hit .272 against Presentation, charting 45 kills against just 11 errors, while the Saints could only manage a .115 mark on the night. Emily Auch led the way with 13 kills, going into double digits for the 14th time on the season, while making just one error.

Thomas was her usual self, dishing out 34 total assists, including 16 in the first set alone, as the Cougars hit .340 with 19 kills to go up 1-0. With her 51 assists, Thomas moves to 976 on the season, and will likely go over the 1,000 mark, becoming just the eighth player in program history to post 1,000 assists in a single season.

For as dominant as the Cougars were in the first match, they were even better in the second. After a .318 performance with 12 kills in the first set with the Rams, the Cougars came back with an outstanding 15-kill, zero-error, .822 second set. They did their damage on just 17 attacks, and led 12-0 before the Rams scored their first point.

In the final home game of the year, head coach Chad Braegelmann was able to empty his bench against the Rams, with all 19 players seeing the court. Auch and Alyssa Haugen led the charge with eight and five kills respectively, with head hitting over .700 in the process.

North Central was held to a -.099 attack percentage, the first time this season the Cougars have held an opponent to a negative mark this season.

Kaylie Clark finished the night with 13 total kills, going over the 500 mark in her short two-year career, and with her 694 career digs, is on pace for a 1,000-1,000 career in kills and digs.

Brita Humphrey added 12 digs, and will likely go over the 1,000 mark this weekend, sitting at 929.

With four straight wins, the Cougars are now on their longest winning streak since ripping off seven straight over the first three weeks of the season.

The Cougars will now wrap up the 2011 regular season this weekend, hitting the road to take on Martin Luther on Friday and Bethany Lutheran on Saturday. Positioning in the final standings will be on the line, as the Cougars look to finish in third place or better for the third straight season.

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