Purnell Flirts with History Not Once, but Twice

North Dakota State went back to Summit League conference play this weekend with two games against in-conference opponents of Western Illinois and Omaha. With a tough lost this past Tuesday against in state rival North Dakota, the Bison look to get back on track and finish the regular season strong before they head into playoffs.

NDSU won their first game of the weekend in straight sets versus Western Illinois Friday 3-0 (25-14, 25-17, 25-15).

Emily Miron lead the way up front with 16 kills and hit for .483 as NDSU hit for a season high of .342 overall. Jessica Jorgensen had nine kills and hit .600, and Emily Minnick, who had six kills, and Brianna Rasmusson, who had five kills, both hit .385. This is only the fourth time this season and the second time in three matches that the Bison hit over .300.

After a lights-out first set where the Bison took the lead early and never let Western Illinois back into it, the Leathernecks battled from being down 8-11 to take the lead 12-11 in the second set.  The Bison were able tie the set after a long rally featuring both teams making alert defensive of plays to keep the rally alive including Mikaela Purnell, Emily Milligan, Morgan Morgan, and Rasmusson for the Bison.

Rasmusson was finally able to end the rally with a kill and started an eight-point run that gave the Bison a 19-12 lead. During this run, Miron had four of her five second set kills. NDSU hit for a whopping .531 in the third set to take the lead after a 12-all tie.

The defense was a big part of this match, as Purnell came up with 28 digs, coming close to Kari Fagnan’s three-set dig record of 32. This is 13th time in 14 matches that Purnell has reached double-figure digs. Milligan finished with 13 digs and Morgan added 11 of her own. The Bison finished with a 7-3 advantage in team blocks as Miron came up with four blocks, three solo, and three from Emily Minnick.

On Saturday, the Bison took the win with another 3-0(25-14, 25-14, 27-25) sweep against the Mavericks of Omaha.

NDSU outhit Omaha .193 to .121 as the Bison where very affective with sharing the ball on offense with a total of 40 kills on 119 attacks and having five players with five or more kills. Steffen had a team-high of 10 kills while recording 11 digs for her team-leading eight ‘double-double.’ Miron had nine, Minnick recorded seven kills and three blocks, Jessica Jorgensen had six, and Alex Erickson claimed five. Rasmusson finished the match with 31 assists and 11 digs for her eighth ‘double-double’ of the season.

Defensively, Purnell did it again. Finishing the match 28 digs, 13 in the third set, for the second straight night. Once again flirting with Fagnans’s three-set dig record of 32. Purnell finished with 56 digs on the weekend and 72 for the week, adding in Tuesdays game against North Dakota, giving her an average of 8 digs per set. On the season Purnell is averaging 5.61 digs per set with double-digit digs in 14 of 15 matches played this year.

When asked on her performance and 28 digs back-to-back nights, Purnell credited her teammates saying, “I think we’ve been really working on our blocking, especially on our outside, and making sure our right as been really strong and I think it’s really them making it easy on us in the back row. So, it’s all the block.”

Morgan served a career-high four aces as the Bison finished with six.

In the first two sets, the Bison took a lead and never looked back. With no ties or lead changes through the first two sets, NDSU finished the second set with an 8-0 run to a final score of 25-14. The first tie would come at 10-all after Omaha came back from a small deficit.  The third set would see a total of 10 ties, the last being at 26-all off a kill by Omaha’s Chloe Dousette, and three lead changes. Bison won the set 28-26.

With the two wins, the Bison move to a record of (7-4 SL, 9-16 overall). NDSU will finish their four-game home stand against Summit League leader of South Dakota Tuesday Nov. 1 at 7:00 p.m.

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