Saints rally to win first NCAA volleyball matchCSS advances to play St. Thomas Saturday afternoon
MOORHEAD, Minn. – The St. Scholastica volleyball team was one set away from seeing its season come to an end for a second time in the last three matches, but for the second time came back to win in five sets over the College of Saint Benedict in its first-ever NCAA Tournament match on Friday at the Moorhead Regional.
The Saints struggled in the opening set, but still came away with a 25-23 set win. CSS hit just .068 in the first set, but three service aces, along with good defense, combined with three service errors by the Blazers helped.
The Saints then jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the second set before the Blazers called a timeout. The timeout helped as St. Ben's battled back and tied the score at 15-15. The Blazers then closed the set on an 11-3 run to even up the match at one set apiece, winning 25-18.
It was the same story in the third set as the Saints had an 8-2 lead, but St. Ben's would end up tying the set at 15-15. With the score tied 22-22, the Blazers would record three of the final four points to take the set 25-23.
In the fourth set, St. Scholastica would start slow, falling behind 5-3 and looked like the season was in jeopardy. However, the Saints would have their best hitting percentage in the set at .308 and would end up forcing a fifth-and-deciding set by a score of 25-19.
In the fifth set, CSS jumped out to a 4-1 lead and unlike the second and third sets the Saints held on to the lead with the Blazers only getting as close as two points. CSS ended up taking the set and the match 15-9. The Saints were a perfect 9-for-9 on side-outs in the fifth set.
This was the second time in the last nine days that the Saints' season appeared to be coming to an end as it was two sets down to the University of Minnesota-Morris in the UMAC Tournament Semifinals last Wednesday.CSS is now 5-2 in five set matches this season and have won its last three consecutive.
Paige Hardy led the Saints with 20 kills. Anna Zyvoloski added 17 kills and was second on the team with 23 digs. She also led the team with three service aces. Former Northwestern Tiger Nikki Hughes (Lake Nebagamon) had 27 digs and Sarah Kurtovich had 47 set assists. Caitlin McKernon was key defensively with three blocks solos and five block assists.
The Saints move on to face the University of St. Thomas in the second round after the Tommies swept the UW-Eau Claire in three sets Friday. The Saints and Tommies played twice during the regular season with St. Thomas coming out on top in both matches. The second-round match begins at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.