Bentson Bunker Fieldhouse was roaring this past Friday as 1,021 fans crammed in to watch the North Dakota State Bison take on the South Dakota State Jackrabbits. The two teams had yet to win a conference match, but it was the Bison who walked away with their first win in the Summit League after sweeping the Jacks 3-0 (25-15, 25-20, 25-17).
Kills would be the story of the first set. Over the first 18 points, 16 kills were recorded. Nine of those came from the NDSU side of the court.
The Bison’s Alexis Bachmeier and Bella Lien had a big block to put the Bison at an eight-point lead at 16-8. This was the pair’s third block of the night.
The Bison continued to increase their lead and finished the set 23-15 on an ace from sophomore Emily Halverson.
The Bison came out strong, something they struggled with in the past three games where they started down two sets.
“Coming off the loss to UND really gave us a fire,” Bachmeier stated.
The second set started with more resistance from the Jackrabbits’ side of the court. SDSU opened with a block from Payton Richardson and then three consecutive kills.
A kill from Burke kept the Bison within one, but the Jacks went on to score the next three.
After mounting a small comeback, NDSU led for the first time in the set at 11-10.
SDSU’s Makenzie Hennen fought back with a kill, and it was tied again at 15. After another kill from Hennen, the Jacks led 20-18.
But then the referee temporarily stopped the play of the game. After nearly 10 minutes of talking with officials and coaches, the score was set to 19-19 because SDSU was charged with a rotation error.
Over the course of the break, Burke said NDSU took this chance “to collectively get together … position-wise and as a whole.”
When the break was over, NDSU came back fighting tough, going 5-1 and finishing off the set 25-20 on a Kalli Hegerle ace.
The third set started with a service error from Hegerle and a kill from the Jacks’ Peterson. However, the Bison would score the next five, with the fourth and final block from the pair of Bachmeier and Lien.
NDSU followed this with a 6-1 streak, including a kill from Helverson.
After three unanswered points from SDSU and a kill from Bachmeier, the score was even at 18-8. SDSU followed with another five unanswered points. Momentum changed again after a kill from Bison freshman Maggie Steffen.
NDSU finished the set on a Bachmeier kill to finish the set 25-17 and the game 3-0.
Over the course of the matchup, NDSU totaled eight blocks and 41 set assists, a majority of which, 36, came from Hegerle.
The team’s .433 hitting percentage was a season high for the Bison. Burke tallied a team-high 13 kills, and Allie Mauch added another nine.
“Overall, (I’m) very happy with our performance,” Bison head coach Jennifer Lopez said after the match. “We just handled it.”
NDSU improved to 3-12 (1-3 Summit League) and played league leaders Denver on Sunday after press time.