The North Dakota State Bison lost a tough match this past Friday against the Fort Wayne Mastodons 2-3 (25-23, 25-16, 14-25, 19-25, 10-15), after taking an early 2-0 lead. Fort Wayne Sophomore Nicole Rightnowar lead the way connecting for a match-high 20 kills and came up with 19 digs, and senior Olivia Hahn had a match-high 36 digs.
NDSU’s senior Hadley Steffen had eight of her 14 kills, to go along with her 18 digs to complete her sixth double-double, a team high, in the first set. Bison were able to overcome nine ties and five lead changes. With the last tie coming at 23-23 where Steffen had two back-to-back kills to take the set 25-23. Big key factor in set number one was the five-point run that gave the Bison the lead 22-20 after being down 17-20. NDSU out hit Fort Wayne .405 to .278.
When asked about Steffen’s performance as of late Head Coach Kari Thompson had this to say. “She is embracing and taking on a role. She knows that as the sixth rotation player, she’s out there all the time, players look to her. Bri (Brianna Rasmusson), our setter, looks to her to be that go to player. Defensively is where I’ve seen it. She just kind of gets into a little zone and it’s amazing that the digs she is making right now. So if we can get her there and keep her there. That’s good things for us.”
Second set was dominated by NDSU’s senior Emily Minnick. Minnick had seven of her team-high 16 kills in set two as the Bison opened the lead. The Bison finished off the set with a five-point run to finish the set with a score of 25-16.
In the third set the Bison could not get anything going. After a 7-0 run by the Mastodons, to take a 9-3 lead, Fort Wayne would go on cruise control to big win. The Mastodons would win the set 25-14 hitting .486 to the Bison’s .125.
The start of the fourth set was not any better. After taking an early lead 6-1, the Mastodons where able to get it to 6-5 in NDSU’s favor before Thompson called a timeout. Coming out of the timeout, Fort Wayne scored three straight to take the lead 8-6 capping of a seven-point run.
The Bison fought hard to make it a very interesting fourth set with 9 ties and 5 lead changes. With the last tie coming at 17 all after a kill by NDSU’s Jessica Jorgensen. Fort Wayne would then go on another big run of 6 straight points to take a commanding lead of 23-17. The Bison and Mastodons would trade the next four scores. Rightnowar finished the set with a kill to take set for Fort Wayne 25-19 and to tie the match 2-2.
In the fifth and pivotal final set the NDSU and Fort Wayne started back and forth early. With early ties and lead changes this looked like a making of an exciting end to the game. With a tie at six all the game would take a turn for the worst for the Bison. After a small three score run to make it 9-6 in the Mastodons favor, Fort Wayne would not look back and take the final set 15-10.
Fort Wayne (4-0 Summit League, 10-7 overall) won in five sets for the second time on the road against league opponents and are 3-3 this season in five set matches. NDSU (3-2 Summit, 5-13) fell to 0-3 in five set matches this year.
The Bison take to the road against South Dakota State this Tuesday October 11th. This is the first of four straight road games. NDSU is back at Benson Bunker Fieldhouse on October 25th as the Bison take on North Dakota.