Following their three straight victories last week, the Bulldogs closed out their stretch of road games against Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference opponents Winona State and Upper Iowa last week. The Bulldogs continued their winning ways in dominant fashion against the Warriors of Winona State, finishing them in three straight sets. Double-digit kills were registered by Mariah Scharf (14), Maddy Siroin (13) and Katie Ledwell (10). Ledwell would provide the teams two aces and senior captain Julie Rainey added 18 digs to lead the team and add to her NSIC leading total. The nation’s leader in assists per set, Ashley Hinsch, posted another strong showing with 40. The Bulldogs currently lead the nation in assists per set with 14.74.
The Bulldogs went back on the road Saturday to take on Upper Iowa, who would go on to end the Bulldogs’ 25-set winning streak. It was a small setback for an impressive victory that saw four Bulldogs post double-digit kills. Mariah Scharf posted an outstanding 20 kills and a block; Ledwell shined with 16 kills to go along with a Bulldog season-high four aces and two blocks. Monica Turner and Siroin added 13 and 10 kills, and Hinsch provided 53 assists to bring the Bulldogs the win.
This weekend will mark the end of the Bulldogs five-game road stretch, with Minnesota State University-Mankato and Concordia-St. Paul set to take the court at Romano Gym against UMD. Concordia-St. Paul currently sits one spot behind UMD in the national rankings at No. 3. Their first loss was to No. 1 University of Tampa — the only team to beat the Bulldogs — in the Colorado Premier tournament. However, Turner is not overlooking the Minnesota State University-Mankato Mavericks — the only other team to beat Concordia-St. Paul.
“They are definitely not the same team that they were last year,” Turner said. “We just have to be ready to play our game against them, because you never know exactly what they’re going to bring.”
Following their game Friday, the Bulldogs will take on rival Concordia-St. Paul at 4 p.m. in their first of two guaranteed matchups during the season. Turner, who always has this matchup circled, knows the challenge that Concordia-St. Paul will bring.
“They have very good middles; they will challenge both (Sydnie Mauch) and I, or whoever’s playing middle,” Turner said. “A lot of teams in our conference are mostly outside-based. Concordia, who has strong middles, will definitely be a new challenge for us that we haven’t seen in a while.”
The Bulldogs will be playing against a team that matches up very well against them, and could provide the toughest challenge for UMD since facing the University of Tampa earlier this season.
“In order to win, we have to rally around each other and play as a team,” Turner said. “We need to be balanced: That’s what really makes us the UMD team that we are. We need to follow our style of play that we have and leave it all on the court.”
BY JAKE PRZYTARSKI