Volleyball coach Jim Boos will have to wait until tomorrow to try and move past Pati Rolf on UMD’s all-time wins list. The top two teams in the nation, No. 1 UMD and No. 2 Concordia-St. Paul, battled to five sets before the Golden Bears took control of the decisive frame and downed the Bulldogs for their first loss this year (25-23, 16-25, 25-22, 20-25, 8-15).
“Like I said to our team before and after the match, it’s only the 13th game of the season,” said Boos, who remains tied with Rolf at 310 wins. “Our goal is to compete our best and play for the NSIC title, and then hopefully, on to the NCAA Tournament.”
The Bulldogs matched the intensity of a hostile, overflowing crowd of 1,624 at the Gangelhoff Center in St. Paul, and jumped out to early advantages in the first three sets, ultimately taking the first and third.
UMD, however, let slip a golden opportunity to take a two-set advantage. The Golden Bears used a 14-1 rally to overcome what was once a 15-11 second-set deficit and knot the contest at a set apiece.
The Bulldogs struggled at times to find their rhythm on offense, especially in the final two sets. Kate Lange led all players with 21 kills on a season-high 70 swings, also collecting 15 digs to notch a double-double. Monica Turner was the only other Bulldog to eclipse double figures in kills. As a squad, UMD hit just .180.
The Golden Bears, meanwhile, gained the upper hand in part due to excellent positioning on defense, which set up strong attacking opportunities for their offense. Concordia-St. Paul, which had four players tally at least 10 kills, overwhelmed the Bulldogs by sending multiple attackers at the UMD frontline.
“We saw where the bar was set tonight by the best team in the country and we can learn a lot from tonight,” Boos said. “We competed well and hung in there for five sets. Unfortunately, Concordia executed better down the stretch. We are a very good team but we got beat by a great team.”
UMD (12-1, 3-1 NSIC) will continue its road trip Saturday with a 4:00 p.m. assignment against Minnesota State-Mankato.
BY EVAN SMEGAL