Survive and advance: UMD volleyball moves on to Central Region Semifinals of NCAA Div-II Tournament

Photo credit: Terry Cartie Norton

Photo credit: Terry Cartie Norton

It took five intense sets to finally end the Central Region quarterfinals between the fifth-seeded University of Minnesota Duluth and fourth-seeded Northern State University.

It’s the fourth straight five-set match the Bulldogs have been apart of - a program record. UMD is now 5-1 on the season following a loss.

The Bulldogs (25-6) set the tone early and looked to be well on their way to sweeping the Wolves (23-7) after taking the first two sets.

UMD jumped out to an early 5-0 lead on five kills in the first set. However, the Wolves refused to go down easy, tying things up at 13 apiece after three straight points. But UMD finally began to pull away and would take the first set 25-21.

The Bulldogs would lead by as many as six points in the second set. Junior right side hitter Sarah Kelly wrapped things up in set two with a pair of kills off sets from freshman outside hitter Kate Berg and sophomore setter Emily Torve to give UMD a 2-0 lead.

NSU battled back, taking set three 25-22 and set four 25-21. This would be the third time in a row the Bulldogs took the first two sets only to drop the third and fourth.

NSU commanded the fifth set early on, taking a 4-1 lead. The fifth set saw four lead changes before the Bulldogs hammered things home on three straight points to end the set. A kill by Kelly would put UMD up 13-12; an attack error on NSU made it 14-12; and a block by none other than Kelly and senior middle blocker Allison Olley put things away for UMD.

Four Bulldogs collared double-digit kills in the match. Kelly set the tone with 23 - eight in the first set-, Berg, and middle blockers Olley and sophomore Abby Thor each collected 11.

UMD’s combined 71 kills is tied for its third most this season. The Bulldogs led in nearly every category including digs (84) and blocks (10.0).

The Bulldogs will take on the first-seeded Southwest Minnesota State University Mustangs tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the semifinals. SMSU (29-3) swept eighth-seeded Arkansas Tech in its quarterfinal match-up, and have now won seven straight. The Mustangs last loss came at the hand of the Bulldogs back on November 3 in Romano Gymnasium.

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