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Cougar volleyball team extends win streak to five

The University of Minnesota, Morris volleyball team extended its winning streak to five with wins over Presentation, Bethany Lutheran, and Martin Luther.

The Cougars are now at 12-10 overall, 5-2 in the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference.

With the wins, the Cougars have created some separation in the previously clogged UMAC standings, and now sit alone in third place, behind unbeaten St. Scholastica and once-beaten Northwestern. With the first run through the conference schedule complete, they will get another crack at each, starting this weekend on the road facing St. Scholastica and Northland.

UM-Morris 3

Presentation 0

The Cougars breezed to victory Tuesday, Oct. 5 taking a 3-0 win from visiting Presentation.

The Cougars took the three games by scores of 25-8, 25-10 and 25-10. UMM was in control the entire way, hitting an impressive .363 for the match. The Cougars hit better than .300 in all three sets and made just seven total errors on the attack, tying a season low. Reigning UMAC Setter of the Week Natalie Thomas ran the offense to perfection finishing with 23 assists and a percentage of .469.

Presentation struggled from the outset, giving up long scoring runs to open each set. They were held to a -.099 attack percentage overall, and finished with just 10 total kills.

After an attack error to end a marathon first point and go down 1-0, the Cougars ripped off five straight points and never looked back in winning game one 25-8. The Cougars swung for a .414 attack percentage in set one with 15 kills against just three errors. Conversely the Saints hit just -.120 with two kills to go with five errors on 25 total attacks.

Kaylie Clark logged five kills in the first set win, getting the bulk of her six on the night.  Megan Theis was the offensive leader at game's end, with 12 kills and a .550 hitting percentage. She has recorded over 10 kills in each of the last four matches.

The Cougars opened up set two on another 6-1 run, but serve errors through the middle of the match allowed the Saints back, as they got within four at 13-9. From there, however, the Cougars settled down to go on a 12-1 run and close out the 25-10 win. Michele Hanson had two aces as part of the stretch, on her way to six on the night.

Hanson's mark tied her season high and led the Cougars to 11 aces, marking just the fourth time this season with double-digit aces. Six total players recorded at least one ace.

The Cougars led 14-3 in a blink in the final set. With two of the Saints' three points coming off UMM errors. Presentation countered to put together a mini 5-4 run and drew to within 10 at 18-8 after a UMM service error. From there the Cougars closed with a 7-2 scoring surge, finishing off the 3-0 win.

Brita Humphrey continued to lead the Cougars in digs, picking up a game high 14 in the match.

UM-Morris 3

Bethany 0

The Cougars scored a 3-0 win over Bethany Lutheran Friday, Oct. 8, winning their fourth straight to move back over the .500 mark.

In a tightly contested match, the Cougars took the three sets by scores of 25-22, 25-21, and 25-23. The Cougars hit a combined .252 in the match, with the Vikings not far behind at .237.

In the first set, the Cougars were actually out hit by the Vikings, as Bethany Lutheran knocked down 15 kills while making just three errors and had a percentage of .364. Conversely, UMM hit only .308, but still got the opening win.

The Cougars also overcame better numbers by the Vikings up front to win the deciding third set, as their .167 mark was slightly below the .241 put up by Bethany Lutheran. Despite the stat disparity, the Cougars had enough for the two-point win, to take their fourth straight match.

Theis and Clark each led the way for the Cougars, finishing with 12 and 11 kills, respectively.

For Clark it ties as the second best mark of her young career, and just the sixth time she has been in double digits. In those 11 kills, she hit a game-high .381, making just three errors in 21 attempts.  She also added eight digs to her stat line, tying with three others for the team high.

Theis, meanwhile, continues her current tear, notching double-digit kills for the fifth straight match. The team leader, this also marks her 12th time overall on the season notching 10 or more as well as her fourth best mark of the year.

Thomas dished out 38 assists, as six different players charted an attack. In one of her best marks of the season for a three-set match, Thomas also was among the dig leaders with eight.

UM-Morris 3

Martin Luther 2

The Cougars pulled out a hard fought 3-2 win Saturday, Oct. 9 over a Martin Luther team that had won three straight.

Looking to close out the match in four, the Cougars watched as the Knights went on a 13-3 run to win the fourth and extend the match to a fifth set. Then in the fifth, the Knights went on a four-point run to tie it at 12-12 before the Cougars put up three straight points for the 15-12 fifth set win, and 3-2 match win.

Martin Luther entered the match on a winning streak of their own, but suffered the first loss in the last four matches. The Knights had won nine straight sets coming into the day, and had won six of their last eight matches.

The Cougars opened the match with a 25-18 win before the Knights evened the score with a 25-23 win in the second set. They then traded 25-18 sets with the Cougars winning in the third and the Knights winning in the fourth. Finally in the fifth set, the Cougars closed it out with a 15-12 win.

Clark led the charge, as the freshman finished with a career-high 17 kills while hitting a team high .316. Clark also had 13 digs, for her third double-double of the season.

Theis and Allie Humphrey also finished with double-digit kills, charting 13 and 11, respectively. For Theis, it is the sixth straight match with over 10 and for Humphrey, it is a career high.

Also from the career-day-department, Thomas tied her best mark in dishing out 50 assists. Just once before has she reached the half century mark, as she set up attacks for eight different players. On the defensive end, she added 15 digs, one of five players with over 10.

The Cougars finished with 10 total blocks, holding the Knights to just a .150 hitting percentage. Humphrey and Stephanie Schmiesing led the way with five block assists each.