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Cougar volleyball season ends at St. Scholastica

The University of Minnesota, Morris volleyball team's season ended Wednesday in the first round of the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) Tournament, where an early 2-0 lead slipped away against St. Scholastica in a five-set thriller.

Morris started out of the gate playing near-perfect volleyball, while St. Scholastica struggled to get their offense. Morris came out winning the first two sets with scores of 25-22 and 25-23, before falling in a closely played third set 25-23. In the fourth and fifth, the Saints played lights-out, winning by scores of 25-11 and 15-4, respectivley to take the match.

With their win in the third set, it seemed the momentum had shifted towards St. Scholastica. Both teams were close all set and tied at 20, 21 and 22, before the Saints used a 3-1 run to take it. The fourth set was all Saints, who made quick work of the Cougars, jumping out to a 10-3 lead. Then, with a 17-10 lead, the Saints rattled off seven straight points to eventually win the set 25-11, and force a decisive fifth set.

With the Saints now clearly having all of the momentum, they jumped out to an early 3-1 lead in the fifth. Continuing to build their lead, the Saints went up 8-4 before rolling off seven straight points to win the set 15-4 and the match 3-2.

In the first two sets, Morris only had 10 errors to St. Scholastica's 14, controlling one of the match's crucial categories. In the final three sets, however, the Cougars had 20 errors and St. Scholastica had only four.

Emily Auch led the team in kills with 17, while adding 15 digs. Allie Humphrey was second with 15 kills, with Kaylie Clark adding 13 kills and 10 digs.

Brita Humphrey led the defense with 22 digs, while Natalie Thomas directed the offense with 45 assists. She ends her career with 2,696 assists, finishing third all-time in Cougar Volleyball history.

This was the second time this season the Cougars were up 2-0 to the Saints, before falling in five, with the first in Morris late in the season.

The Cougars end the season with an overall record of 19-13, and an 8-6 mark in conference play. The Cougars have won at least 15 games in each of the past three seasons, and with five starters returning next season, they show plenty of promise for the future.