Wildcats lose five-set thriller of ranked foes
Seventh-ranked Southwest Minnesota State outlasted No. 19 Wayne State in a five-set Northern Sun Conference thriller Saturday afternoon at Rice Auditorium in Wayne, winning 23-25, 25-18, 13-25, 25-22 and 15-11.
The first set was a back-and-forth battle with 10 ties and six lead changes. Wayne State took its biggest lead of the set at 17-12 following a Maddie Duffy service ace to force an SMSU timeout. Later in the set, SMSU used three straight kills from Angela Young to take a 21-20 lead and force a Wildcat timeout.
Wayne State scored the next two points to regain the lead at 22-21 and used a Tarrin Beller kill and another from Katie Stephens to close the set. Beller had five kills in the set to lead WSC.
SMSU came back and controlled the second set despite five kills from Stephens. Wayne State hit just .102 in the set while SMSU had 15 kills and a .222 attack percentage.
Wayne State regained momentum in the third set and never trailed to take a 2-1 advantage. The Wildcats had 15 kills and a .310 attack percentage in the set, led by Jaci Brahmer with five kills, while the Wildcats forced eight SMSU attack errors.
The fourth set saw the Mustangs rally from an early deficit to force a fifth set. Wayne State held a 12-10 advantage following a kill from Beller, but SMSU surged back and scored six of the next seven points for a 16-13 Mustang lead forcing a Wildcat timeout.
Wayne State got as close as one in the fourth set at 18-17, but a service ace from SMSU’s Kaylee Burmeister gave the Mustangs a 23-19 lead and SMSU held on to tie the match.
SMSU jumped out to an early 4-1 lead in the fifth set. Wayne State rallied to even the score at 8-8, but three straight points from the Mustangs gave SMSU an 11-8 cushion to force a Wildcat timeout. The Wildcats got within one at 11-10 following a block by Maddie Knobbe and Beller, but SMSU closed the set with four of the final five points to give the Mustangs the win.
Stephens led four Wildcat players in double figure kills with 16. Beller had 12 to go with seven blocks while Alyssa Ballenger and Brahmer each recorded 11 kills. Libero Haley Kauth had 36 digs followed by Ballenger with 19. Setter Megan Gebhardt had a double-double with 51 set assists and 10 digs.
Wayne State (8-2, 1-1 NSIC) will be on the road Tuesday for a 6 p.m. contest at Augustana.