Wildcat season ends in loss at Southwest

Seventh-ranked Southwest Minnesota State defeated Wayne State 25-17, 28-26 and 25-21 Tuesday evening in the opening round of the Northern Sun Conference Volleyball Tournament played at the PE Gym in Marshall, Minn.

The first set was close early until the Mustangs scored seven straight points late in the set to finish off the Wildcats. Trailing 7-5, Wayne State scored three straight points for an 8-7 lead that included a Maddie Knobbe kill. With Southwest leading 13-12, the Mustangs reeled off seven straight points to take a commanding 20-12 lead and go on to win the opening set.

The second set saw 13 ties and five lead changes exchanged between the two clubs in a set that featured many scoring runs by both teams.

Wayne State led 9-8, but the Mustangs rattled off five straight points for a 13-9 lead forcing a Wildcat timeout. The Wildcats returned the favor with their own 5-0 run and regained the lead at 14-13 following a Jaci Brahmer kill.

Later in the set with Wayne State leading 20-19, the Mustangs scored five straight again and had set point at 24-20. Three Mustang attack errors, a kill from Alyssa Ballenger and a block by Brahmer and Knobbe gave Wayne State set point at 25-24. With the score tied at 26-26, the Mustangs used a Wildcat service error and a kill from Angela Young to outlast the Wildcats and take the 2-0 match advantage.

Wayne State stayed close early with the Mustangs in the third set, but could not overcome nine attack errors as Southwest completed the sweep.

The Wildcats’ final lead of the set came at 10-9 following a Tarrin Beller kill. The set was still tied at 13-13 until the Mustangs scored six of the next seven points for a 19-14 lead. Wayne STate got as close as 19-18 followed a Knobbe kill, but Southwest put together a 5-0 run to end the Wildcats’ hopes for a comeback.

Southwest hit .205 in the match while holding Wayne State to a .095 attack percentage. The Mustangs had 52 kills with 20 errors on 156 attacks while the Wildcats had 31 kills, 17 errors and 147 attacks. The Mustangs ended with an 89-68 advantage in digs and had one more block than Wayne State 9-8. Southwest had three service aces to one for the Wildcats.

Ballenger ended with 11 kills to lead Wayne State followed by Knobbe with six. Haley Kauth recorded 20 digs with sophomore Hope Carter adding 10.

Senior setter Megan Gebhardt closed out her Wildcat career with a double-double, recording 19 assists and 12 digs. Knobbe led Wayne State with four blocks followed by Tarrin Beller and Jaci Brahmer with three apiece.

Wayne State ends the season with a 22-9 record.

The Wayne Herald

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