The Bulldogs were back on the road this week looking to continue their hot streak against Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference opponents Northern State and Minnesota State Moorhead. With the NSIC tournament growing closer, Captain Julie Rainey wants to come into the tournament with her team playing their best volleyball. “I think it gives you a little more confidence going into the tournament,” she said. “You’ve already played all these teams once so you kind of know what you’re in for. But teams strategize for you differently, and know your team a little bit better. I think it comes down to how each team controls their side of the net.”
The Bulldogs certainly controlled their side of the net this weekend, starting with a trip to Aberdeen that ended in a straight set victory. Mariah Scharf and Maddy Sirion were the leaders in kills with 16 and 14 respectively. Sirion would also go on to pick up two of the team’s four aces, Katie Ledwell registered the teams other two. Three Bulldogs accounted for double digit digs, 18 for Rainey, 12 for Ledwell and 10 for Siroin. Ashley Hinsch continued her dominance in the assist department picking up 38.
For Aberdeen, the team took a trip to Moorhead the following day to take on the Dragons of Minnesota State Moorhead.
The Bulldogs got off to a slow start losing their first set, but bounced back to win three straight sets and continue their win streak. A balanced effort from the Bulldog’s hitters helped tip the game in their favor, with Ledwell, Turner, Mauch, Siroin, and Scharf each recoding double digit kill totals.
Rainey provided support with 27 digs, and Hinsch had another big game with a whopping 50 assists. Rainey appreciates having balanced scoring from her hitters, and believes that will provide a major challenge for teams to defend come playoff time.
“We need to keeping in our system and keep our offense rolling,” she said. “We need even play with our hitters on the stat sheet so we keep the opponent guessing.
It makes it really hard to teams to guess for blocking when everyone including me is getting kills. We need to keep our offence fluent.”
Now just two short weeks away from NSIC tournament competition, the Bulldogs still have a tough schedule ahead of them with Concordia eagerly awaiting a regular season rematch after getting beaten convincingly in front of UMD faithful at Romano.
The home gym and fans are something the Bulldogs will have to go without this match, traveling to St. Paul this time. Rainey is fully prepared for the challenge that Concordia will present.
“I think every time we come into Concordia, we know some of their natural tendencies, “ she said. “It comes down to who comes to play better volleyball that night, and who makes less errors.”
Prior to the matchup against Concordia, the Bulldogs will have a busy week taking on St. Cloud, Wayne State, and Augustana all at home.
UMD knows all of these teams well, beating them all in straight sets in their home gyms.
Now, they’ll be taking on a Bulldog team at home that is riding a 16 game winning streak, and poised to make a deep run in the playoffs.
BY JAKE PRZYTARSKI Statesman Correspondent