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KWU Volleyball Holds Off Upset-Minded St. Mary

KSAL Sports - November 13, 2013 6:38 am

It took five sets, but the Kansas Wesleyan Volleyball team would top the Saint Mary Spires in the quarterfinals of the KCAC Volleyball Tournament – 19-25, 25-12, 22-25, 25-16, 15-4 – on Tuesday night at Mabee Arena.

Meeting for the third time this season and the third time in the last three years to open postseason play, the Coyotes and Spires would go the distance after Saint Mary would open the match with a 25-19 win and then hold off a charge by the Coyotes in the third set. Wesleyan would rally furiously in the fourth set and then put forth a dominating performance in the deciding set for the win.

The victory also means the top seeded Coyotes will host the remainder of the KCAC Tournament on Friday and Saturday at Mabee Arena. The tournament semifinals will be on Friday as second seeded Tabor takes on third seeded Ottawa in the first semifinal at 6 p.m., followed by the Coyotes against fourth-seeded Friends at around 8 p.m. The two semifinal winners will meet Saturday at 7 p.m. at Mabee Arena in the KCAC Tournament Championship for a berth in the NAIA Volleyball National Championship Opening Round, held at campus sites around the country on November 23.

Saint Mary broke a 10-10 tie in the opening set with a block that sparked a 4-0 run by the Spires to give them a 14-10 lead over the Coyotes. Wesleyan got back within a point at 15-14, and would tie things up at 16-all on a service ace by Lauren Chamness. Saint Mary rallied again, scoring the next five points to take a 21-16 lead and the Coyotes got no closer the four points the rest of the way as the Spires took the opening set 25-19.

The Coyotes powered out to a 7-2 lead in the second set and next let Saint Mary get closer than three points the rest of the way. Saint Mary was within three at 8-5 when the Coyotes got two points to take a 10-5 lead that would later balloon to 18-7 on a kill byBrittaney Miller for the Coyotes. Kaci Cole would put down a kill to set up set point which the Coyotes would get on a handling error by Saint Mary.

The third set looked a lot like the first set as the Spires would take the lead early and hold onto it until the Coyotes would tie things at 9-all and take a brief 10-9 lead. Saint Mary answered back with a pair of kills to take the lead back, but the Coyotes had an answer, taking the lead back with a Taylor Klover kill that made it 12-11. Saint Mary would break a 17-all tie with two point to take a 19-17 lead that the Coyotes could not recover from, despite getting within two at 24-22 before Saint Mary would take the set 25-12.

The start of the fourth set mirrored the first and third sets as the score was close until Wesleyan broke an 11-all tie on a block by Miller and Melissa Blair and would push the lead out to 14-11 on a kill by Blair. Saint Mary could never rally as the Coyotes would pull away, scoring the last five points of the set for a 25-16 win.

The deciding set was all Coyotes as Wesleyan turned a 2-2 tie into a 10-3 advantage on a block by Breanne Schultz and Klover. Saint Mary scored its last point thanks to a hitting error by the Coyotes before Wesleyan would score the final four points of the match, the final coming on a kill by Klover to give Wesleyan a 15-4 victory in the set and take the match in five.

Schultz led the Coyotes with 16 kills while Miller had 14 and Chamness added 12 as the Coyotes hit .297 as a team. Elkinton had five kills to go along with 44 assists and 11 digs in the match. Miller served three of Wesleyan’s six aces and Marlene Yang added 12 digs. Wesleyan’s up front play was key tonight as well as the Coyotes had 11 total team blocks paced by seven each by Blair and Schultz.

Aubrey Harris had 18 kills to lead Saint Mary who finished its season at 11-26 overall.