The fourth-ranked UMD volleyball team rolled to a 4-0 showing at the West Florida Opening Weekend Tournament in Pensacola, Fla., over the weekend and chased down a pair of major landmarks in the process. Jim Boos saw his 300th win as head coach of the Bulldogs Friday after his team defeated preseason No. 18 Wheeling Jesuit and No. 19 West Florida. By virtue of the four-win weekend, Boos now sits eight wins away from tying the all-time UMD mark held by former head coach Pati Rolf.
“It means I’ve been doing it a while,” Boos said. “I’m surrounded by so many people that help make the student-athletes successful, my assistant coaches especially. I’ve been fortunate enough to coach some really great athletes. I’ve got to give credit to everyone else for getting there, as well.”
Friday’s opener against Wheeling Jesuit took five sets to decide a winner, but UMD pulled away late and then handled West Florida in straight sets in game two for Boos’ 300th. Redshirt freshman middle blocker Sydnie Mauch had four blocks in her UMD debut in game one, and Lange was key in the opening day wins with 21 total kills.
On Saturday, UMD looked to make it a tournament sweep with games against Southern Indiana and Missouri S&T. The Bulldogs took the first set against Southern Indiana, but the Screaming Eagles came back to take the second set before UMD closed out the next two to take the match in four sets.
The second match of the day would put the Bulldogs up against Missouri S&T. UMD dominated the Miners in straight sets, including a 25-12 decision in the third. Lange had 11 kills in the match, including her 1,500th, which gives her 83 on the season and 1,506 in her career. Junior outside hitter Katie Ledwell contributed 10 kills, as well. Lange said she was unaware that she had hit the personal milestone.
“It feels pretty cool to have reached it, but I owe it all to my team,” Lange wrote in an email. “Starting the season off 4-0 is great; it gives us a little bit of confidence going into our tournament next weekend and the rest of the season, but knowing we didn’t always play exactly the way we wanted to all weekend, we know what we have to work on to get even better as well.”
Lange wasn’t the only Bulldog who put up big numbers in Florida. Junior defensive specialist Julie Rainey led the team with 82 digs, while junior middle blocker Jessica Zieman and Mauch made key blocks splitting floor time.
Sophomore setter Ashley Hinsch, Lange and Rainey were all named to the ten-player all-tournament team.
“It was a good test of the team early in the year,” Boos said. “It exposed things we need to work on before our tournament next weekend. We’ve got to work with the new group and want to learn to deal with adversity on the floor.”
Now ranked No. 2 nationally, UMD will be in Kenosha, Wis., over the weekend for the UW-Parkside Tournament.
BY NICOLE BRODZIK firstname.lastname@example.org