Wildcat netters upset Golden Bears, get No. 6 seed for conference

Katie Stephens matched a career-high with 20 kills while sophomore Alyssa Ballenger posted a career-best 18 kills to lead the Wayne State College volleyball team to a 3-1 upset (28-26, 25-21, 17-25, 25-15) at sixth-ranked Concordia-St. Paul Saturday afternoon at the Gangelhoff Center in St. Paul, Minn.

Stephens and Ballenger set the tone for the Wildcats in the first set as the duo combined for 11 of Wayne State’s 16 kills in the set. Wayne State led throughout the set and had set point at 24-21, but the Golden Bears rallied to even the score at 24-24. Still tied at 26-26, the Wildcats got a kill from Ballenger followed by a service ace from Tarrin Beller to win the first set.

The second set was back and forth, featuring seven ties and three lead changes. With Concordia leading 16-15, Wayne State got a kill from Jaci Brahmer, followed by a block from Beller and Stephens and consecutive kills from Stephens to take the lead for good at 19-16. After the Golden Bears got within one at 21-20, Wayne State used a Golden Bear service error, a kill from Ballenger, another service error and a kill on set point from senior setter Megan Gebhardt to take the second set.

The host Golden Bears hit a sizzling .484 in the third set with 18 kills as Concordia-St. Paul pulled away late in the third set, but Wayne State reversed the momentum in the fourth set, posting a .464 attack percentage with 14 kills and just one attack error on 28 attacks, led by six kills from Stephens and four more by Ballenger, to knock off the Golden Bears.

The Wildcats finished the match hitting .353 with 58 kills and only 11 errors on 133 attacks while Concordia-St. Paul recorded a .296 attack percentage with 69 kills, 22 errors and 159 attacks. Wayne State held a 60-55 edge in digs and had a 6.5-6.0 advantage in blocks. Wayne State had six service aces and just three errors in the win while Concordia-St. Paul had four aces and eight service errors.

Stephens matched her career-high with 20 kills to lead Wayne State, hitting .350 in the match. Ballenger topped her previous career-high by one kill and finished with 18 to go with a stellar .472 attack percentage. Haley Kauth had 15 digs for Wayne State followed by Morgan Alexander with 13. Alexander had three of Wayne State’s six service aces in the win. Megan Gebhardt handed out 50 set assists and had three blocks in the match along with Beller to share team-high honors.

Wayne State (22-8, 13-7 NSIC) is the sixth seed for the 2018 Northern Sun Conference Volleyball Tournament and will travel to Marshall, Minn., Tuesday at 8 p.m. for a first-round match at third-seeded Southwest Minnesota State, who is ranked No. 9 in the AVCA Division II Top 25 Coaches Poll, with records of 21-7 and 16-4 in conference play. The 8 p.m. start time is due to Election Day polling on the campus of Southwest Minnesota State Tuesday. The Wildcats and Mustangs met once this season in Wayne on Sept. 8, with Southwest Minnesota State winning in five sets.

The Wayne Herald

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