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Volleyball: No. 7 Eagles edge UM-Morris in five

Minnesota Morris gave No. 7 Northwestern all they could handle before falling to the Eagles in a thrilling back-and-forth five-set match (25-14, 20-25, 15-25, 25-21, 10-15) in UMAC volleyball action Wednesday, Oct. 11 in St. Paul.

The Cougars were not intimidated playing on the home court of the nationally-ranked conference opponent. They got into an early rhythm and took the first set 25-14. Trailing 8-7, newcomers Rachel Mathias and Mia Frick were catalysts in a 7-1 spurt that gave UMM a 14-9 edge. Mathias drilled two kills and Frick added a kill and a service ace. Marissa Ekness delivered two kills in a 4-0 run to put UMM up 18-11. Frick and Morgan Miller closed out a 6-0 with block assists to end the set.

Minnesota Morris got out to a 13-7 lead in the second set before Northwestern rallied to take the set, 25-20. The Eagles would win the third, 25-15.

The Cougars would not go out quietly though. Trailing 11-7 in the fourth, UMM put together a five-point spurt to take a 12-11 edge. Later, tied at 19, the Cougars rattled off four straight to take command at 23-19. A kill from Layne Herrmann made it 24-20 and, two points later, Miller sent the match to a fifth set with a kill down the line.

Back-to-back blocks from Miller and Herrmann then Miller and Frick put UMM up 3-1 in the decisive set. Later, with UMM up 4-3, UNW scored nine of the next 10 points to take a 12-5 lead. The Cougars would pull within four at 13-9, but the Eagles would close out the set to take the match in five.

The Cougars were able to take Northwestern to five sets due to the defensive pressure they put on their top performers. Reigning UMAC and national player of the year, Lindsey Peterson, came into the contest third in the nation in kills per set at 4.99; UMM held her to 12 kills over five sets (2.4/set). Mariah Halvorsen was also kept under her season average.

Ekness led the Cougars with 17 kills and also had 10 digs. Frick had 10 kills and six blocks. Miller totaled nine kills and blocks. Herrmann amassed 37 assists and Katie Reitsma led with 25 digs.

Minnesota Morris (20-6, 10-2 in UMAC) returns home to face St. Scholastica and Concordia-Moorhead Friday, Oct. 13 at 5 p.m.