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Cougars split in UMAC volleyball action

The University of Minnesota, Morris volleyball team split a second weekend of Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) action, topping Crown 3-0 and falling to Northwestern 3-1.

UM-Morris 3

Crown 0

The Cougars scored their second straight sweep Friday, Sept. 30, making quick work of visiting Crown by scores of 25-20, 25-17, and 25-18.

The Storm struggled offensively, hitting just .110 for the match with a .053 mixed in for the second set.

Kaylie Clark led the way with 12 kills, while taking 43 total attacks. It's the seventh time this season she has hit double digits, and the fifth time in the last seven matches. Not far behind was Stephanie Schmiesing with 10 kills, while hitting .318, the fifth time she has hit over .300 this season, and the third time in the last four matches.

Emily Auch also added seven kills in the match, giving the Cougars three players over the 100 kill mark on the season (107), as she joins Clark (131) and Schmiesing (114).

Natalie Thomas continued her impressive senior season, dishing out 33 assists in the three sets. Thomas set the Cougars to a .222 hitting percentage as a team - their fifth best mark of the year - which included a .297 mark in the third set.

Thomas also added 11 digs, one of four Cougars to notch better than 10, on the way to 61 as a team. It marks the second most digs in a match this season, the best for a three-set match, and is better than five matches that went either four or five sets.

Clark led the way with 16 digs on the defensive end, charting her second straight double-double. It is her fourth on the season and the Cougars are 3-1 when she accomplishes the feat. Auch added 15 for the second best mark of her young career, with Brita Humphrey adding 10.

Northwestern 3

UM-Morris 1

The Cougars played four close sets with visiting Northwestern Saturday, Oct. 1, but fell 3-1, never losing by more than three points.

Northwestern came into the match atop the standings and unbeaten in UMAC play, but were pushed to the brink in each set by Morris.

The Eagles had to work overtime for their first set win, taking the frame 28-26, before going up 2-0 with a 25-22 win in the second. The Cougars held off the sweep with a 25-22 win in the third, but Northwestern played its best set of the day to take the match with a 25-23 win in the fourth.

Northwestern hit .261 with 18 kills to take the deciding fourth set, but the Cougars had the best mark of the day with their .275 tally in their third-set win.

In the final set the Cougars made it interesting with a late run. Facing elimination down 24-20, Morris ripped off the next three points to pull within one. The run was halted though, when - after calling a timeout - the Eagles got the game-, and match- winning kill.

The Cougars ran out to a 10-0 lead in the third, with Allie Humphrey and Auch combining for five kills in the stretch. Auch finished the match with 12 kills, and Humphrey had 10, with four different Cougars finishing in double-digits.

Clark led the charge with a season-high 17, with Schmeising also adding 12. Schmeising hit the .300 mark for the sixth time on the year, while Humphrey led the team with a .364, making just two errors in her 22 attempts for her second best mark of the year.

Twin sister Brita Humphrey led the way on defense with 20 digs, her best mark of the season, while five total players charted double-digits. Clark notched her third straight double-double with 19 digs in the back row, with Thomas adding 15, and Michele Hanson and Auch digging up 13 and 12, respectively.

Thomas finished with 48 assists, leading the Cougars to a .221 hitting mark as a team, and despite the loss, their fifth best mark of the year. Northwestern was held to a .212 mark in the match.

It was a close match the entire way though, with the score tied 19 times and 11 lead changes. The only set without a tie was the third, where the Cougars jumped out early and led the entire way.

Three straight points late in the first set gave the Cougars a 25-24 lead, but the Eagles answered to take four of the next five points and the set. The second set sat tied at 18-18 before Northwestern took the next two. The next seven points went back and forth, before the Eagles took the final two to go up two sets to none.

The Cougars return to the P.E. Center on Oct. 7 and 8 to host Bethany Lutheran and Martin Luther, respectively. Match times are 7 p.m. on Friday and 1 p.m. on Saturday.