The University of Minnesota, Morris volleyball team began NCAA Division III volleyball tournament play against the region’s top-seeded Gustavus Adolphus Friday, Nov. 9, in St. Peter. The Cougars upset the No. 1-seed in the Central Region 3-0 before falling in the second round to College of Saint Benedict 3-2.
The Cougars close out the 2018 season with a 23-12 overall record under first-year coach Joe Sussenguth.
UM-Morris 3, Gustavus 0
Last Saturday, Nov. 3, the Minnesota Morris volleyball team made history by claiming its first UMAC tournament championship and program's first NCAA Tournament berth by defeating Northwestern. On Friday, Nov. 9, the Cougars made more history by winning the program's first NCAA Tournament match by topping No. 8 in the tournament, Gustavus Adolphus, in straight sets (26-24, 25-22, 25-20) in a first round match in St. Peter.
The Gusties were the top-ranked team in the Central Region.
The Cougars showed no jitters in their first ever NCAA match by taking sizable leads in every set against the MIAC regular season and tournament champion who lost only two matches all season. In the opening set, the Cougars broke open a 9-9 tie with a 4-0 run started by a Tori Everson kill. Later, another Everson kill started a 3-0 run that gave UMM an 18-11 lead. Gustavus fought back to tie it at 22 and would take a 24-23 lead. A Gustavus service error tied the set at 24, another Everson smash gave the Cougars the lead and a Sierra Nori ace closed out the set in favor of the Cougars.
Another Cougar mini-spurt gave the Cougars a 14-10 lead in the second set. A pair of kills from Whitney Schwartz and another one from Everson put the Cougars up, 18-13. Gustavus would again fight back to tie it late, this time at 20. A Rachel Mathias kill and an Allison Yang ace put the Cougars up, 22-20. Later a Brenna Tinjum kill and a block assist by Schwartz and Morgan Miller closed out the set and gave the Cougars a 2 sets to 0 lead.
Like in the previous sets, another run gave the Cougars a mid-set lead. Kills from Everson and Tinjum closed out a 6-1 run that gave UMM a 15-11 edge. The Gusties pulled within two at 20-18 before the Cougars would close out the set and match with a 5-2 run. A Schwartz kill put the Cougars on the brink of victory. Two points later, a Gustavus kill attempt went wide and the Cougars celebrated an historic victory.
Mathias and Schwartz led the Cougars with 11 kills each. Tinjum recorded a double-double with 10 kills and 11 digs. Also getting a double-double was Layne Herrmann who dished out 33 assists and dug out 17 balls.
CSB 3, UM-Morris 2
The Minnesota Morris volleyball team's historic postseason run came to an end Saturday, Nov. 10 with a five-set loss (25-23, 25-23, 8-25, 16-25, 11-15) to Saint Benedict in an NCAA Division III second round matchup, at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter.
Saturday's contest was a rematch of a late September tilt in St. Joseph that the Cougars won in four sets. After two sets were in the books Saturday, it appeared the Cougars would repeat that performance as they took a 2 sets to 0 lead on the Bennies with identical 25-23 set scores.
Like Friday, the Cougars appeared un-phased by the national tournament atmosphere. Aided by a 6-0 run, the Cougars raced out to a 12-4 lead in the first. Rachel Mathias, Layne Herrmann, and Tori Everson all delivered kills to help give UMM the early edge. St. Ben's would rally to pull within one at 16-15. A Mathias kill helped stretch the lead back to three at 19-16. Later, a 4-0 CSB spurt gave them a 22-21 lead. A Morgan Miller block tied the set at 22. Brenna Tinjum started a 3-0 closing set run with a kill that Everson ended with a smash and 1-0 Cougar lead.
The Bennies jumped out to a 10-5 lead in the second set. They still led by five at 16-11 before the Cougars started climbing back in. A block assist by Mathias and Whitney Schwartz and a service ace from Sierra Nori pulled UMM within 18-16. Later, down three, a 4-0 Cougar run, aided by three consecutive kills from Tinjum, gave them a 22-21 advantage. A Schwartz kill and an Alyssa Ukestad ace closed out the set in favor of a two-set Cougar lead.
St. Ben's dominated the next two sets to force a decisive fifth. Back-to-back kills from Mathias gave UMM a 2-1 lead. She would add two more kills as the two teams were tied at 8 in a back-and-forth affair. The Bennies took control from there scoring five of the next six points to take a 13-9 lead. Back-to-back kills by Tinjum pulled UMM within 13-11, but CSB would close out the set and match with two straight points.
Mathias led the Cougars with 22 kills. Tinjum added 16 kills and 13 digs. Herrmann totaled 48 assists and 13 digs. Ukestad led with 15 digs.