Bulldogs Close Season with Nail Bitter

An incredible regular season came to an end this week as the Bulldogs took to the road for their final three regular season games. With the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference tournament beginning this week at home against the University of Sioux Falls, it was crucial that the Bulldogs finish strong in hopes of carrying the momentum generated in this historic regular season into the postseason.Their first match of the week took place on Tuesday in St. Paul against rival Concordia-St. Paul, which looked to be their toughest challenge of the three on paper. However, it would be their final match of the regular season against Southwest Minnesota State that provided a nail-biting finish. On their trip to St. Paul, the Bulldogs exhibited all the intangibles you look for in a championship caliber team, especially resiliency. Faced with a first-set loss, the Bulldogs were able to regroup and beat Concordia-St. Paul in four consecutive sets, a regular-season sweep. First Team All-NSIC players Julie Rainey and Ashley Hinsch fully lived up to their status by providing support in digs (22) and assists (59) respectively, as they’ve been doing all season. “Ashley is one of the best — if not the best — setters in the country,” Rainey wrote in an email. “She has so much passion for the game and always comes to play. She is a great teammate and a friend.” The Bulldogs were back in action on Friday taking on NSIC opponent Sioux Falls. Resiliency wasn’t necessary in this match as the Bulldogs cruised to a straight-set victory. Everything seemed to go right Friday as four players reached double-digit kills in the match. Hinsch would go on to lead the team in assists with 46. Although the victory seemed to come with little resistance, Rainey wants to make sure no one is underestimating them. “They serve pretty tough and, when in system, (they) have hitters that can really terminate the ball,” Rainey wrote. “We need to do our best to get them out of system and continue to put on the pressure.” Following their lightly-contested match Friday, the Bulldogs needed all the resiliency they could muster as they took on Southwest Minnesota State. For only the second time all season, the Bulldogs were taken to the fifth set, but were able to come out with the win. Things started slow for the Bulldogs as they lost the first set in convincing fashion, but tenacity helped keep them in the match and lead to a tight victory. Rainey acknowledges this tenacity, and is happy with how the regular season ended. “Yes, I think we found a way to win when things weren't really working for us,” Rainey wrote. “It was great to finish our season on a win and go undefeated in conference play” With the regular season in the rearview mirror and NSIC tournament play rapidly approaching, the Bulldogs will need to buckle down and come together like they’ve been doing all season long. Carrying a 22-match win streak into the tournament, a target is surely on the backs of the No. 2 ranked Bulldogs. “I think teams would really like to get a win against us at this point in the season,” Rainey wrote. “Everyone just wants to get a win. Everyone in (the) postseason comes to play, and I think it will be a really competitive postseason.”


High Stakes Surround Final NSIC Matchup / One More Win

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