Coming off of three consecutive sweeps, it looked like the Bulldogs were on the way to their fifth straight win. But that wasn’t the case on Friday night. After taking the first set in commanding fashion (25-13), the Bulldogs were stunned in five sets over Augustana.
Actually, it was the Vikings who controlled most of the match. Despite the first set, when the Bulldogs outhit the Vikings 0.359 to 0.109, the Vikings out-mustered the Bulldogs in the final four sets. Augustana hit 0.261 while holding UMD to a slim 0.166 in the final four frames.
Augustana came close to ending it in four sets. They battled back after the rough opening set, won the next two sets and had match point in the fourth. The Bulldogs rallied to force the pivotal fifth set but, in the end, lost.
“You have to give a lot of credit to Augustana,” said head coach Jim Boos. “We took the first set convincingly, and were up 8-3 in the second. Then missed a serve and they rallied a few points off of us and outplayed us. After that, they started to play with reckless abandonment and no fear. We never got on track offensively and they continued to play at a high level (in the fifth set).”
The ensuing day, things were back to normal as UMD shredded then-No. 19 Wayne State in straight sets. Kate Lange led the way with a game-high 16 kills. She also had a game-high 14 digs along with Julie Rainey and Warriors’ Courtney VanGroningen.
“I like how the girls responded,” said Boos. “It was a long road trip for the girls to play back-to-back. We didn’t come out and start as well as we did Friday night. It had that potential to have the wheels come off that wagon, but the girls stepped up.”
Minnesota Duluth is back at Romano Gymnasium with a stretch of games this week. Tuesday night (after The Statesman went to press), UMD battled St. Cloud State in the “Battle of the Dogs.” Then, UMD is set to wage combat against Upper Iowa and Winona State on Friday and Saturday.
BY EVAN SMEGAL firstname.lastname@example.org