Beller ties school mark as Wildcats win in five

Wayne State junior middle hitter Tarrin Beller tied a single game school record with 13 blocks to help the 19th-ranked Wildcats rally for a 3-2 win at Sioux Falls Thursday in the Northern Sun Conference volleyball opener for both teams.

The Wildcats came out strong, forcing 11 attack errors on USF with four coming on blocks. Alyssa Ballenger had three of Wayne State’s eight kills in the first set while Beller accounted for four blocks.

Momentum swung to the side of Sioux Falls in the second set as the Cougars recorded 18 kills and a .341 attack percentage. Sophomore Maddie Knobbe had three kills in six attempts for Wayne State.

Sioux Falls continued their strong play in the third set, leading from start to finish. Jaci Brahmer had a team-high four kills in the set as the Cougars produced 15 kills and just four errors for a .297 attack percentage in the set.

The Wildcats started quickly in the fourth set, taking a 5-1 lead following a Hope Carter service ace.  Sioux Falls rallied to knot the score at 8-8, but the Wildcats used a Cougar attack error and Beller kill to take the lead for good at 10-8. The Wildcats extended the lead to 13-9 to force a USF timeout.  WSC sealed the set win with a block by Knobbe and Beller, the fifth of the set, to force the winner-take-all fifth game.

It didn’t look good for the Wildcats early in the fifth set as Sioux Falls took an 8-4 lead, but kills from Brahmer and Katie Stephens cut the Cougar lead to 9-8. After a time out, Wayne State used back-to-back service aces from junior libero Haley Kauth followed by a Cougar attack error to take control of the set with an 11-9 lead. The Wildcats closed the set with a pair of blocks, a solo stuff by Beller and another by Beller and Knobbe on match point to complete the Wildcat rally and take the win.

Ballenger paced WSC in hitting with 12 kills to go with 20 digs for her first double-double of the season. Brahmer added 10 kills and had three blocks while Beller produced nine kills and tied a single-match school record with 13 blocks in the contest. Wayne State and NSIC Hall of Famer Emily Schroeder Jones set the school standard three times in her career from 2005-07. Kauth was credited with 21 digs and had three of Wayne State’s eight service aces in the win while setter Megan Gebhardt had 36 set assists.

The Wildcats (8-1, 1-0 NSIC) will be in action again Saturday, playing host to No. 7 Southwest Minnesota State in the home opener with first serve set for 1 p.m.

The Wayne Herald

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