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Cougars split home UMAC matches

The University of Minnesota, Morris volleyball team hosted two Upper Midwest Athletic Conference opponents over the weekend, sweeping Bethany Lutheran Friday and falling to Martin Luther in four Saturday. The Cougars are now 12-6 overall and 4-3 in the UMAC.

UM-Morris 3

Bethany 0

The Cougars won for the fifth time in the last seven matches Friday, taking a 3-0 sweep over visiting Bethany Lutheran in UMAC action.

The Cougars continued their streak of hot-hitting matches, posting a .291 mark with just 10 total attack errors while winning by set scores of 25-14, 25-18, and 25-15.

Morris has now posted a sweep in each of their last five wins, while Bethany Lutheran fell for the third time in their last four.

A balanced Cougar attack saw just Emily Auch hit double-digits, with her game-high 12 kills, but had five different players notch five or more. She also posted the second best dig night of her young career with 16, gaining her fourth double-double in the process. Auch was one of two players to hit over .350 with her .360, along with Jennifer LaRoque's .357 on five kills without an error.

Stephanie Schmiesing added eight kills, ending a streak of back-to-back games in double figures.

Brita Humphrey added 15 digs in the back row, while closing in on the 800 mark for her career. And running the offense as usual was Brita Humphrey, who dished out 34 assists.

The Cougars made quick work of the Vikings in the first set, hitting .222 in the frame, with a match-high14 kills on 36 total attempts. Morris opened with a 1-0 lead and led the whole way.

The story of the set was the 13-2 run the Cougars went on midway through, to turn a 9-2 lead in to a 22-8 advantage as they cruised to the win.

The second set was a bit closer as the Cougars trailed at times, but were able to outscore the Vikings 18-10 down the stretch to finish with a .344 attack percentage with just two errors.

The final set was more of the same as the Cougars hit .314 with 13 kills and only a pair of errors.

Martin Luther 3

UM-Morris 1

The Cougars got down early Saturday and never recovered, dropping a 3-1 match to visiting Martin Luther in UMAC action.

Hosting their annual Dig Pink match, as well as Parent's Day, the Cougars started slow after the prematch festivities, and a night after they could hardly make an error, they were done in by them. Martin Luther won the first two sets by scores of 25-18 and 25-21, before Morris got back with a 25-18 win in the third. The Knights finally took the match with a 25-22 fourth set win, in the closest played game of the day.

Morris made 33 attack errors, including 12 and 10 in the first and fourth sets, respectively.

Martin Luther improved to 10-10 overall and 4-2 in the UMAC.

The Knights countered with just 21 errors in the match, and no more than five in any of their three wins.

In taking the first two sets, the Knights put the Cougars down 0-2 for just the fourth time all season.

Morris hit just -.023 in the first set, committing 12 errors against just 11 kills. The second set was better with a .146 mark at the net, but wasn't enough for the win as Martin Luther countered with their best set of the match at .237 with 14 kills.

Under Chad Braegelmann, only twice have the Cougars overcome a 2-0 deficit to win a match, and they finally broke through in the third set to start the comeback. The Cougars had to put a late run together to take it too, as four straight Knight points brought them within two at 18-16. Beginning with a Martin Luther serve error, Morris took eight of the next 10 points, including the last five to stave off elimination and live for another set.

The fourth set was not as kind to the Cougars as, despite their match-high 15 kills, they hit just .109 while the Knights hit .231 with only three errors for the win. The Cougars made it interesting late though, putting together a four-point run to get within one at 20-19. Martin Luther answered, and after the teams treaded points, the Knights still led 23-22 after a Kaylie Clark kill.

Back-to-back Cougar attack errors then signaled defeat, as the Knights took the match.

Emily Auch and Steph Schmiesing each led the Cougars with 12 kills, with Clark adding 10 and Allie Humphrey knocking down nine with a team high .333 attack percentage

Auch and Clark led the way defensively, with 18 and 16 digs respectively, with Natalie Thomas adding 41 assists, putting her over the 600 mark on the season for the third straight year.

As part of the Dig Pink event, the Cougars sold and auctioned off special memorabilia, raising over $800 for the Side-Out Foundation for breast cancer awareness and research.

The Cougars will return to action Tuesday for a non-conference meeting at Dakota State at 7:30 p.m. They then return home this weekend to begin the second half of UMAC play. On Oct. 14 they host St. Scholastica at 7 p.m., and on Oct. 15 they host Northland at 11 a.m. Morris fell 3-0 to the Saints and swept the LumberJills in their first meeting this season.