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Sweep puts Cougars in UMAC Championship

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The University of Minnesota, Morris,  won a share of the UMAC Championship, for the first time since 2003, with the 3-0 victory over North Central Friday, November 1.

The weekend produced two tough losses for the Cougars. UM-Morris ended the regular season 13-1 in UMAC and 23-11 overall. UM-Morris lost to Northwestern (3-1) and Concordia (3-0) on November 2.

Despite the losses, the Cougars didn’t lose faith. With a home playoff on November 6, the Cougars swept Martin Luther and landed a spot in the UMAC Championship on Saturday, November 9.

UM-Morris 3, North Central 0

UM-Morris clinched a share of the UMAC Championship on November 1, sweeping North Central (25-9, 25-12, 25-8).

The team hit .342 and held North Central to .000 hitting. Four different Cougars had five kills: Cori Becker, Emily Auch, Abby Tietz, and Addie Vancura.

Morris took control with a 16-3 run, taking a 20-7 lead late in the first set. North Central could not get any closer as UMM ran away with the set 25-9. The second set was a repeat, the Cougars jumped out to a 9-3 lead and North Central could not recover. The Cougars used a 10-3 run to secure the second set 25-12.

Morris kept control going into the third set. With a 12-2 start, Morris put a stranglehold on the match, taking the final set 25-8.

UM-Morris 1, Northwestern 3

The Cougars battled with Northwestern with a chance to clinch the UMAC Regular Season Championship outright. Despite their efforts, Northwestern handed the Cougars the 3-1 loss (25-19, 25-20, 24-26, 25-15).

Northwestern took the first two sets, quickly gaining a hold of  the match. The second set featured 12 ties and two lead changes, but UMM could never get over the hump after falling behind 12-11. With the set tied at 20, Northwestern scored five straight take the set 25-20.

In set three, UM-Morris rallied after trailing 10-6 to take a 13-10 lead. Northwestern pulled to within one before tying the set at 18. A 5-2 run gave UMM the 23-20 lead, but Northwestern  rallied to tie the set at 24. An attack error and kill by Vancura gave Morris the 26-24 set three victory.

Three errors by the Cougars to start the fourth set gave the Eagles the momentum and an early lead. The set remained close until Northwestern scored five straight and took a 15-10 lead. UMM never recovered and the Eagles took the set 25-15, ending the match.

Auch had 14 kills against Northwestern, leading the offense. Kaylie Clark had 35 digs defensively, keeping the Cougars in the match. Tietz and Hannah Knott each had 10 kills, and Mandy Allman had 24 assists.

UM-Morris 0, Concordia 3

The effects of having to play back-to-back matches got to the Cougars in their contest with Concordia. Concordia swept the Cougars (25-20, 25-14, 25-23), ending the UMM regular season. Auch, again, led the offense picking up 11 kills, but it wasn’t enough for the Cougars.

The Cobbers jumped out to an early 7-3 lead in the first set and kept UMM at bay for the majority, taking the set 25-20.

The momentum was all Concordia in the second set as UMM fell behind 10-4. Morris could not get within five points of the Cobbers and fell 25-14 in set two.

Morris battled hard in the third set and was competitive throughout. UMM tried to pull away, taking a 12-7 lead, but Concordia stayed strong and found a way to tie the set at 12. It was back and forth for the rest of the set, but Concordia had the upper hand, squeaking out the set 25-23 and the 3-0 match win.

UM-Morris 3, Martin Luther 0

Thanks to 18 kills from Tietz, the Cougars are headed to the 2013 UMAC Championship match on Saturday, November 9. UM-Morris swept the Knights 25-21, 25-22, 25-21. The Cougars will face Northwestern in the final at 7 p.m. It marks the first time the Cougars have advanced to the UMAC Tournament Championship in school history.

Clark had 25 digs to lead the team defensively. Becker had a solo block, four block assists and five kills. Auch had 13 kills and seven digs. Alyssa Haugen had eight kills and hit .294 in the match.

Morris out hit the Knights .273 to .140, recording 15 more kills than Martin Luther. Allman had 22 assists and Kayley Siekmann added 18.

The Cougars jumped out to a 7-3 lead in the first set, but the Knights stayed within striking distance. A solo block pulled Martin Luther back in the set at 11-10. Martin Luther took their first lead at 13-12 before the Cougars tied it back up. The set was back and forth with four lead changes and seven ties before Tietz gave the Cougars the set one win with a kill at 25-21.

Martin Luther took an 8-5 lead and kept UMM at bay for the first half of the second set, leading 12-9. Tietz had back-to-back-to-back kills, giving UMM their first lead of the set 13-12. Clark had an ace out of a MLC timeout pushing the lead to 14-12. Vancura and Becker combined for a block, giving UMM their largest lead of the set at 19-15, but Martin Luther rattled off three straight, pulling within one. Martin Luther forced a Cougar timeout after a pair of ball handling errors gave the Knights a 20-19 lead. Morris responded and took a 23-21 lead before taking the set 25-22 and a two set to none lead. Auch had seven kills in the set to set the pace for the Cougars offensively.

Morris fed off the momentum of the second set, taking a 6-3 lead early in the third. The Knights would tie the set back up at seven, not going away quietly. Another back and forth set for the Cougars with six lead changes and ten ties. Holding a 19-18 lead, the Knights were called for a ball handling error, giving the Cougars the 20-18 lead. The Cougars had set point at 24-21 with Tietz serving and she did her job, producing an ace, and putting the Cougars in the UMAC Championship match against Northwestern Saturday night.