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Volleyball: Bethel holds on to down UM-Morris

Morgan Miller spikes the ball right at Bethel's Tina Hoppe. Miller had seven kills in the 3-2 loss to the Royals. Brooke Kern / Stevens County Times1 / 4
Rachel Mathias puts this ball past Bethel blockers for a kill against the Royals Tuesday, Sept. 5 in Morris. Mathias had 13 kills in the home opener for the Minnesota Morris Cougars. Brooke Kern / Stevens County Times2 / 4
Lindsey Markel goes up for a hit against Bethel during the non-conference home opener for Minnesota Morris Tuesday, Sept. 5 in Morris. Markel had 11 kills in the Cougar loss. Brooke Kern / Stevens County Times3 / 4
Marissa Ekness puts the ball past Bethel blockers during the home opener for Minnesota Morris on Tuesday evening. Ekness had a game high 20 kills in the loss to Bethel. Brooke Kern / Stevens County Times4 / 4

In an entertaining volleyball match that went the distance, Minnesota Morris' comeback from two sets down fell just short as the Cougars fell in their home opener to Bethel 3 games to 2 Tuesday night at the P.E. Center.

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Layne Herrmann sets up a teammate with this ball during the game against Bethel Tuesday. Brooke Kern / Stevens County TimesAfter losing the first two sets, the Cougars were in danger of being swept when they trailed 23-19 in the third set. Some Bethel errors combined with a Rachel Mathias kill gave the Cougars the final six points of the frame to send it to a fourth set.

UMM used that momentum to take a big early lead in the fourth. Leading 5-4, the Cougars scored eight straight to take command, 13-4. Mia Frick and Morgan Miller combined on block assists for two of the first three points of the rally and Frick and Ekness each delivered a pair of kills. The Cougars would hold a comfortable edge the rest of the set as a Lindsey Markel kill closed it out at 25-17 to even the match at two sets a piece.

In the fifth set, the two teams exchanged the first eight points before the Cougars gained a 6-4 edge following a Hannah Godzala service ace and a Bethel error. Later tied at 8, another Royal error gave UMM a 9-8 advantage. Bethel would win seven of the last nine points to take the set, 15-11 and the match, 3-2.

Ekness had a 20-20 game with 20 kills and 21 digs. Mathias and Markel added 13 and 11 kills, respectively. Layne Herrmann totaled 47 assists and 14 digs. Katie Reitsma led with 26 digs.

Minnesota Morris (3-2) heads out east to Boston, Mass. for their next contests Friday and Saturday, Sept. 8 and 9.