North Dakota State lost a six-game winning streak as they fell short of making a comeback against Denver 2-3 (25-23, 16-25, 20-25, 25-21, 9-15) in the final regular season Summit League volleyball match on Sunday.
The Bison also recognized eight seniors on Senior Day. Monica Claxton, Hannah Jessen, Emily Milligan, Emily Minnick, Emily Miron, Ali Moody, Morgan Morgan and Hadley Steffen each played their last game at Bentson Bunker Fieldhouse
The Bison won the first set that saw nine ties and five lead changes. After a tie of 22-all, Minnick and Brianna Rassmusson put NDSU up 24-22 after a kill from each. Alex Erickson closed out the set with a solo block. The Bison outhit the Pioneers .429 to .298 in the set.
Denver took an early lead in the second set and did not allow NDSU to get back in. The set saw not even one tie as the Pioneers took control, winning 25-16 and tie the score 1-1 going in o the break. Denver hit a solid while .486 compared to the Bison’s .199.
It was back-and-fourth coming out of the break with nine ties and four lead changes. The last tie came at 18-all. After a service error by NDSU’s Erika Gelzintye, Denver finished the set with a score of 25-20.
The Bison held the lead for most of the fourth set. There were only two lead changes and six ties, the last being at 21-all. NDSU then went on a four-point run to close out the set and force a fifth set.
The Pioneers jumped out to a quick lead of 11-5 to take hold of the final set.
Denver’s Nola Basey finished off the set with her third kill of the set and tenth of the match. Denver hit eight in the set, for a final score of 15-9. Ruth Okoye had 13 kills and hit .423. Moni Corrujedo had 12 kills and 13 digs, while Emma Willis added another 11 kills. Kayla Principato finished with a match high of 21 kills, three coming in the fifth set. Denver outhit NDSU .240 to .050 for the set, .306 to .247 in the match.
For the Bison, Minnick, Steffen and Gelzinyte all had 14 kills as Miron added 11. Mikaela Purnell led the Bison with 23 digs, as Steffen had 15 and Milligan came up with 13. Rasmusson finished with 44 assists, 12 digs and two blocks. Both Steffen and Rasmusson finished with their 11th “double-double” of the year.
NDSU finished the season with an 11-5 record in the Summit League and 13-17 overall. With the record, NDSU secured the third spot in the Summit League Tournament and will play in the second match of the tournament at 8:30 p.m. Friday, against No. 6 IUPUI, who the Bison beat twice this year with a score of 3-0 both times. If the Bison can get past the Jaguars, they will go ahead against South Dakota at 8:30 p.m. Saturday. The Bison and the Coyotes are tied in a head-to-head contest this year with USD winning 3-0 and NDSU winning 3-1.
On the other side of the bracket, Fort Wayne (4) and Oral Roberts (5) is the first match of the tournament at 6:00 p.m. Friday. The winner advances to face first seed and host Denver on at 6:00 p.m. Saturday. The final match will be held at 3:00 p.m. Sunday. All matches can be seen online at thesummitleague.org/tournaments/wvball/2016-17/index. The championship match also can be seen on ESPN3.