NO. 4 BULLDOGS OUTLAST NO. 22 DRAGONS IN FIVE SETS TO REMAIN UNBEATEN
Saturday, September 15, 2012
After rolling to seven consecutive straight-set victories, one might assume the University of Minnesota Duluth forgot what it's like to play more than three sets in a given night. The Bulldogs were pushed to five sets Saturday night, but came out on top 3-2 (25-19, 16-25, 26-24. 20-25, 15-11) over Minnesota State University-Moorhead at Romano Gymnasium.
No. 4 UMD (11-0 overall and 2-0 in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference) battled issues in the serve department throughout the entire match. The Bulldogs committed 12 service errors, allowing the Dragons to hang around and threaten to pull off the road upset.
"Tonight we served very poorly," Bulldog head coach Jim Boos said of his club's effort. "That first contact is always going to be critical for us and tonight that first contact was not very good."
The Bulldogs threw their weight around in the opening set, jumping out to a 1-0 lead on the legs of a potent offensive attack. After getting a chance to talk things over, the Dragons (9-2; 1-1) responded in the second by pounding 14 kills against just three errors to knot the score heading into intermission.
The entire match turned in the third set, when UMD pulled ahead by claiming a set that seemed all but certain to go the way of MSU-Moorhead. Trailing 24-20, the Bulldogs rattled off six straight points to steal the set and take a 2-1 lead into the fourth game. The Dragons continued the back-and-forth affair, taking the fourth set by a score of 25-20. UMD recovered to play a cleaner game in the decisive set, the only one in which the Bulldogs did not commit a service error. With a 7-6 lead, UMD went on a 5-0 run before junior outside hitter Kate Lange ended the match with her 29th kill of the evening.
Behind Lange, Monica Turner and Kalli Lochner posted 12 kills apiece from the middle. Sophomore libero Julie Rainey led the Bulldog defense with 19 digs. Rookie setter Ashley Hinsch passed out 61 assists as UMD hit .249 for the match.
"Moorhead is good. They're a scrappy group," Boos said. "I think they challenged us in ways that we needed to be challenged in order to get better. We're fortunate that we learned with a win. Every team needs a wake up call from time to time."
UMD returns to action next Tuesday when the Bulldogs travel to St. Cloud, Minn., to take on St. Cloud State at Halenbeck Hall.
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