The University of Minnesota Morris volleyball team became the first UMAC team to take a set off the University of Northwestern this season, but the Eagles came back and held off the Cougars in a tight fourth set to come away with the 3-1 (25-21, 14-25, 15-25, 21-25) win. Northwestern strengthens its grip on first place in the conference at 20-3 (9-0 UMAC), while UMN Morris drops to 11-10 (7-3 UMAC).
Minnesota Morris shook off an early 2-0 deficit in the first set and roared out to a 12-5 lead on Northwestern. Kennedy Geller and Jenna Howden teamed up for consecutive blocks and Alyssa Ukestad, Geller, and Howden all had aces in that stretch as well. A kill from Maggie Jones put the Cougars ahead, 23-17, before Northwestern was able to score four straight and close the gap to two. Jones got things back on track with a kill to earn a set point and Laura Wellbrock finished it off to give the Cougars a 1-0 lead.
Northwestern got things rolling in the second and third sets while the Cougars struggled with attacking errors. The Eagles put together a combined 31 kills in the two sets while Minnesota Morris had just 11 while committing 13 errors as UNW took a 2-1 lead in the match.
The fourth set was more indicative of the competitiveness of the match. Tied at 7-7, Northwestern scored six straight to take a 13-7 lead as Minnesota Morris took both of its timeouts. A kill from Jones finally got the Cougars back on the board and that was followed by a pair of errors from UNW to trim the deficit down to three. As the set progressed, Jones and Brooke Christensen had back-to-back blocks as part of a five-point run to get the score to 16-15. Another pair of blocks later in the set from Christensen and Geller knotted the score at 18-18 and again at 19-19. From there, the Eagles were able to score three in a row and held on from there to close it out.
Jones and Wellbrock each had nine kills on the afternoon to lead the Cougar attack. McKenzie Newton ended with 23 assists. Ukestad collected 14 digs. Geller had five kills, a solo block, and five block assists as the Cougars had 10 blocks in the match.
Minnesota Morris steps back into non-conference play on Tuesday night with a trip to Moorhead to take on Concordia College at 7 p.m.