Bison Volleyball Goes Out Swinging

The North Dakota State Volleyball team went 1-1 in the Summit League Championships over the weekend. While victorious over Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis on Friday night, the Bison fell to South Dakota in the semifinals.

It was a rough first set, but the Bison were able to defeat IUPUI 3-1 (18-25, 25-22, 25-14, 25-19) in the quarterfinals on Friday at the University of Denver Hamilton Gymnasium.

Defense helped the Bison make a comeback in the second set and the offense powered its way to hit .405 in the third and .324 in the fourth. The Bison went on a six-point run in the second to make the score 12-7 on a block from Hadley Steffen and Emily Miron, a pair of services aces from Mikaela Purnell and kills from Miron and Brianna Rasmusson.

IUPUI cameback to make the lead tighter at 16-15 in favor of the Bison, before NDSU went on a five-point run to make it 21-15, and close the gap again at 24-22 before NDSU won the set. Rasmusson, Steffen and Miron made alert plays at the net. Emily Milligan, Morgan Morgan and Purnell made solid defensive plays to help the Bison take the second set.

The Bison had a well-balanced attack in the third set. Alex Erickson and Miron each had four kills, while Emily Minnick, Steffen and Rasmusson each had three. Miron had a couple of solo blocks as Purnell dug up 10 digs in the third.

NDSU outhit IUPUI .245 to .174 overall. Miron led the Bison with 15 kills as Minnick had 14, while Steffen and Erickson each had nine. Erika Gelzintye had five kills, five digs, a service ace and a solo block. Rasmusson finished with 47 assists to go with her 15 digs and six kills. Purnell, who was named Summit League Defensive Player of the Year, tied her career-high of 35 digs.

The Bison lost in the semifinals against No. 2 South Dakota the following night. The Coyotes would go and win the straight sets 3-0 (25-16, 25-18, 25-19) to advance to the finals where Denver, the No. 1 seed and host, awaits after they defeated Oral Roberts in the first match of the night.

USD were led by the play of Brittany Jessen, Elizabeth Loschen and Audrey Reeg. The Coyotes slowly pulled away from the Bison in the first set and rode that momentum on both offense and defense the rest of the match. USD allowed the Bison to have only three three-point runs.

The Bison were held in check the whole match as they only hit .150 compared to .300 for the Coyotes. Minnick led the team with nine kills on 18 attacks and one error for a hitting percentage of .444. Miron was second with seven kills while adding five blocks. Purnell came up with 12 digs, and Rasmusson had 16 assists, six digs and three blocks.

Jessen directed 42 assists and had 11 digs. Loshen finished with 11 kills. Reeg finished with a match-high of 14 kills and came up with 11 digs.

Jessen was rewarded with the Summit League Setter of the Year and Reeg was named summit League Player of the Year. Both were named to the All-League Team. Loshen was named Summit League Freshman of the Year and be named to the All-Freshman Team.

Leanne Williamson, head coach of the Coyotes, was named Coach of the Year.

For the Bison, Minnick, Miron and Prunell were all be named to the All-League Team. Erickson would be named to the All-Freshman Team.

Seniors Monica Claxton, Hannah Jessen, Milligan, Ali Moody, Morgan, Steffen, Minnick and Miron played their last match as a Bison. The team finished the season with a 14-18 record overall, 11-5 to finish third in the Summit League.


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